Scots government considers ban on sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s

Woman smoking an e-cigarette Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The government is considering more advertising restrictions on the e-cigarette industry

The Scottish government is considering whether to make it illegal for people under 18 to buy electronic cigarettes.

The move is part of a public consultation which has also asked for views on whether smoking in a car with children should be illegal.

There is currently no age restriction on the purchase of electronic cigarettes.

Other changes regarding electronic cigarette regulation and strengthening tobacco control are being considered.

The government is also looking at increasing advertising restrictions on the e-cigarette industry, amid concerns that e-cigarettes encourage children to take up smoking.

Members of the public and other interested parties are being invited to give their views on a number of measures. The consultation responses will be taken into account as the government decides future legislation.

'Proper regulation'

Respondents will be asked whether they think the sale of e-cigarettes should be banned for under-18s. It would also be an offence for adults to buy the products for underage individuals.

The consultation includes the proposal that is should be illegal to smoke in a car if anyone under 18 is on board. Smoke-free zones around outdoor children's play parks are also being considered.

Another option given to respondents is the statutory obligation that all NHS grounds are free from smoke. The Scottish government has already asked boards to do this by 2015 but on a voluntary basis.

Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said: "Electronic cigarettes are relatively new, and there is very little regulation of their sale and use.

"This consultation is the first step towards proper regulation of the devices in Scotland. We will carefully consider the responses and decide what are the most appropriate next steps.

"It is very important we consider the restrictions on all forms of advertising on e-cigarettes, which I know is a concern to many."

He said that the government had a target to half the number of children exposed to second-hand smoke by 2020.

The government launched the Take it Right Outside campaign this year, which urges people not to smoke around children.

'Dangerous practice'

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP welcomed the move to ban smoking in cars with children.

Last year Mr Hume launched a bill aiming to prevent adults smoking in private vehicles while a child under 16 was present.

He said: "Clearly the Scottish government have been persuaded by the evidence to my consultation and by the strength of the case made by myself and colleagues in the academic and charity sectors. Only by prohibiting this dangerous practice can we safeguard the health and future of our children by preventing their exposure to the damaging chemicals found in second-hand smoke.

"I will be pressing ahead with my own proposals and will shortly be lodging my Bill to ensure that this issue continues to remain front and centre of the Scottish government's tobacco control efforts."

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