Scottish Government to Deny Under-18s Access to E-Cigarettes

As the debate over e-cigarettes intensifies, the Scottish government is expected to pass new legislation banning under-18s from purchasing the devices in question.

The Scottish Government’s Health Bill will also limit the advertising of vaping paraphernalia, as an increasing body of research suggests that the technology can be just as harmful as traditional smoking products.

Vaping technology is now available via prescription in England, but there is controversy about this decision for a couple of reasons.

Not only is it suggested that e-cigarettes are perhaps carcinogenic, but there is also criticism of the suggestion that they actually contribute to people ceasing smoking completely.

In many cases, smokers merely migrate from the conventional tobacco products to smoking e-cigarettes on a permanent basis.

Aside from the legislation related to vaping technology, the bill will also contain other provisions as well.

It will create specific criminal offences for health and social care workers who are found to be deliberately mistreating those in their care.

The legislation will also require health and social care organisations to be open when a patient has suffered unintended harm during treatment or care, through a statutory duty of candour.

And the Scottish government also amended the bill at the eleventh hour in order to create a duty for the NHS to provide equipment and support people who lose voices as the result of health conditions after input from MND Scotland.

Public health minister Maureen Watt commented on the bill, outlining the reasons for removing access to the cigarettes for those aged under 18.

“This is a wide-ranging bill. If passed this afternoon it will mean the introduction of regulation of e-cigarettes for the first time. While they are almost certainly safer than cigarettes, and have a role to help people quit smoking, we don’t want children to take them up, and that’s why we are proposing these age restrictions.”

Watt also spoke about the decision to ensure that people will no longer smoke in the vicinity of hospital property.

“Making it an offence to smoke near hospital buildings is common sense, and it will help NHS boards to enforce their existing smoke-free policies. Hospitals are places people go to recover from illness, and they shouldn’t have to walk through clouds of smoke.”

In addition, Watt welcomed some of the additional provisions contained in the bill, and suggested that it would be a worthy addition to health legislation in Scotland.

“This is also a Bill that seeks to improve patient safety and rights. Our proposals on duty of candour will ensure that health and social care providers are fully open when a patient has suffered unintentional harm. They will improve transparency, raise standards and help us to learn from past mistakes. We also hope to create a new criminal offence for wilful neglect. Thankfully these cases are very rare, but when they do happen it will give our courts the power to deal with the worst cases of neglect and ill-treatment.”

The bill will be debated in Parliament before members of Holyrood vote on its adoption.


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