FRUITY and sweet-flavoured vapes could soon be prohibited in Scotland in a bid to stop children or young people taking up the habit. 

A Scottish Green MSP has said she will bring forward legislation to stop firms using “deliberately sweet-toothed tactics.”

But the industry described the plan as a "huge backward and nonsensical step for tobacco harm reduction."

The possible flavour ban bill from Gillian Mackay comes as the Scottish Government currently mulls possible restrictions on advertising and displays. 

Ministers have previously said they are “greatly concerned by reports of children and under-age young people obtaining vaping products.”

While exact figures are hard to come by, initial findings from the Scottish Government’s Growing Up in Scotland study for 2019-20 when participants were 14 years old suggested that 21.5% had vaped.

Anti-smoking charity ASH's youth survey showed regular vaping rose among 11 to 17-year-olds from 4% in 2020 to 7% this year, while 52% of youngsters who vape favouring disposable e-cigarettes.

Ms Mackay said the “huge steps” taken by Scotland’s 2006 smoking ban was “being unpicked by producers of e-cigarettes and vaping products.”

She accused them of using the sweet flavours to “target a new generation of users.”

Elf Bar, a Chinese-owned vaping giant, popular with younger vapers, thanks to its social media presence and £3.99 disposable vapes, comes in flavours such as blue razz lemonade, strawberry ice cream, cola, kiwi and citrus yoghurt. 

They are prefilled with a nicotine salt-based e-liquid containing 20 milligrams of nicotine per millilitre.

Ms Mackay: “It cannot be right that these brands are promoting these products with berry, watermelon, mint and other flavours. It is a re-run of when alcopops first appeared on the scene and targeted teeny tipplers.

“When campaigners such as Ash Scotland warn of the consequences, as new evidence of the consequences that frequent use of these products is having emerges, politicians must take steps to protect our communities.

“I will be looking closely at what steps we may wish to explore in terms of restrictions on the flavoured products in particular, which are clearly targeted to appeal to a demographic of potential users most likely to be of a younger age group.

“In the meantime, I am writing to the main supermarkets and leading retailers urging them to act responsibly and voluntarily ensure such blatant marketing campaigns are unable to cause harm by restricting their product placement.

“Much in the way cigarettes are hidden from view to lessen their appeal, it is up to shops and stores to play their part in supporting the health of the nation before action is taken that will compel them to do so.”

The Green MSP added: “This is beyond the days of smoking behind the bike sheds, this is a multi million industry leading the nation’s health down a path to disaster, it is a ticking time-bomb, and until we know more that’s not a risk I or anyone else should be asked to accept.”

John Dunne, Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association, said flavours played a "critical role in helping adult smokers quit their habits through vaping."

He said: “This will be a huge backward and nonsensical step for tobacco harm reduction in Scotland, and is completely out of touch with the evidence around vaping’s significant role in helping people quit smoking as well as the sentiment of the Scottish people who recently showed in their feedback to a Government consultation that there is no majority for the proposed tightening of the rules on the advertising and promotion of vaping products in the country.

“Flavours play a critical role in helping adult smokers quit their habits through vaping. Indeed where flavour restrictions have been implemented there has been a rise in combustible smoking.

“Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the number of adult smokers are at an all time low (13.3%) with vaping, which has risen at the same time by 1.3% to 7.7% of the adult population, acknowledged as playing a major role in the decline of smoking.

“It’s ironic that this ‘promise’ by the Scottish Green Party comes just after the ONS data revealed that Scotland had the highest smoking rate in Great Britain at 14.8%.

“This type of action is in denial of the facts about vaping and the huge public health prize it presents.

"It will derail the country’s 2034 smokefree ambitions, creating a significant risk to the health of the people of Scotland, as well as spreading more uncertainty around vaping caused by misinformation linked to such action, and inconsistent government policies.

“Not only should flavours be embraced, but agreed health claims and switching messages based on real evidence should be allowed to be used on packaging and promotions by the vaping industry and public health organisations to encourage adult smokers to switch to e-cigarettes."