Tobacco and Vapes Bill

Written Evidence Submitted by Jordon Anderson (TVB31)

Tobacco & Vapes Bill

1. I write this submission as an individual, from Aberdeen, Scotland. I am an activist, Young Changemaker and I strongly support the principle and intent behind the Bill. For clarity, I am also a member of Scottish Greens, but will not be commenting in that capacity. I would also like to draw attention to the fact that I lodged a petition to the Scottish Parliament in June 2023, calling for a ban on Disposable Vapes

2. I will start by saying that current enforcement of legislation which already exists is not good enough. I would like to see the amendment by Giles Watting supported and introduced. This would go a long way in ensuring that we curb the current epidemic of youth vaping and smoking. We would also bring our measures in line with USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who all have raised the age of smoking to 21. We must do our upmost to reduce the burden that tobacco-related diseases has on our NHS. Prevention and early intervention is key

3. It’s important to clarify that we already have existing legislation in place to prevent the sale of Tobacco and Vaping Products to those under 18’s here in Scotland. However it must be said that this is no longer enough. We must make these products less appealing to our young people. Let me absolutely clear that the vaping industry sets a dangerous precedent by marketing the way they do. However, it’s not just marketing that’s an issue, it’s also the price. I’ve heard many young people buying vapes, rather than buying lunch at school. This sets a dangerous trajectory, where addictions have the possibility to cause eating disorders, simply because they suppress appetite. The committee must include this in their scrutiny

4. I have always said that we need to move away from reactive measures to proactive enforcement. On the spot fines and retail bans on repeat rogue traders is important. We must not criminalise the young people, and I would urge the committee to be aware of that in any amendments they submit. However, I would use this space to advocate for more local authority funding. Trading Standards cannot do what they do without adequate funding. Retailers, Local Authorities and we as the public must all be on the same page. That requires training, willingness and resources.

5. One thing I’m failing to see in the Bill, is the ability for Ministers of the respective jurisdictions to monitor compliance, and evaluations. Will these be powers afforded to local councils? These powers will help us gauge the Bill’s success and impact in curbing the current epidemic we are witnessing. I would urge the committee to consider this when they come to scrutinise this area

6. While the bill’s impact assessment highlights the societal benefits of reducing smoking rates, it’s essential to consider the potential economic repercussions, particularly on businesses reliant on tobacco sales. Measures to mitigate these effects, such as supporting affected industries in transitioning to alternative revenue streams or providing incentives for compliance, merit consideration. Moreover, ongoing evaluation and adjustment of policies based on real-time data are necessary to strike a balance between public health goals and economic considerations.

7. Regulation is not enough to address this issue. Instead, we must look beyond the statute book. We need to do more research into the underlying motivations and drivers behind youth vaping. Peer pressure, online sales, appealing prices are just some of the drivers. We cannot have a blanket approach to address this. It’s disappointing that Online Sales haven’t been mentioned in this Bill. However I have good faith that the committee will take this forward in amendments. It would be incredibly silly as a government to introduce laws for in person retail, but not online retailers. Many whom are overseas.

8. I would argue that we must focus on getting current legislation right before moving to drastic bans which some people say might infringe on freedom of choice, as even when those born after 01/01/2009 it’s not clear whether when these young people reach the age of 18 if they still face the inability to decide. This I would argue goes against human rights, so this must be treated in the sensitivity that it deserves. We must consider the businesses reliant on tobacco sales, including our small community corner shops, which we risk loosing if we do everything at once. How will the government seek to support industries to more appropriate revenue streams or provide incentives for compliance. We need to look at real time economic data, the UK Vaping Association says this "As a whole turnover within the UK vape sector grew by 23.4% from 2017 to 2021, an increase of £251m, and stood at £1.325bn last year alone. When indirect economic benefits such as supply chain support and the spending power of vape sector workers is factored in the economic impact more than doubles to £2.8bn. The number of people directly and indirectly employed in the vape sector – such as those employed elsewhere in the supply chain – was 17,700 in 2021. The contribution vaping made to the Exchequer through taxation was £310m in 2021" - this is a major contribution, which we wouldn’t be right to not be concerned about. Economically consideration must be given alongside the health impacts.

9. I would always say to take industry input with a pinch of salt, simply because many of them put profit over people. They are too naive to see the harm their industry is causing, and they believe they are innocent. The public health evidence is what matters most, and this must be front and centre to this bill’s passage. Disappointingly, there is no young people’s charity called to give evidence to the committee, so I would hope that members of the committee do all they can to ensure that young people are heard. Young people are the people who this bill impacts, so I would urge the committee to extend its deadline for oral evidence to encourage young people and those charities and organisations who represent them to come forward and give evidence which otherwise may not be possible in written submissions.

10. In conclusion, I urge the committee to consider deeply the societal and economic impact of the legislation. Support must be given to businesses transitioning away from tobacco sales. Equal measures must be sought when measuring public health goals and economic considerations. I would finally state that young people must be better represented in the legislative process. I thank the committee for the work in all of the passsage of this bill.

1 May 2024


Prepared 8th May 2024