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Children and e-cigarettes

Published: 27 Sep 2015 00:01

Survey shows exposure to marketing

A majority of secondary school pupils have been exposed to e-cigarette marketing, according to new research commissioned by the Scottish Government.

The survey found that, in the past week alone, sixty per cent had seen them for sale in shops, shopping centres or stalls, 26 per cent had seen outdoor poster adverts and 23 per cent had seen or heard adverts on TV or radio.

The Scottish Government commissioned the survey to help inform the forthcoming Health Bill, which proposes a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s, 'proxy purchase' by adults for minors, and restrictions on the marketing of the products.

A total of 2,016 secondary school pupils, aged 11 to 18, were asked about their experiences in late 2014.

The survey found that only 16 per cent of the sample had ever used an e-cigarette, but most of those had only tried an e-cigarette 'once or twice'. Of respondents who had never smoked tobacco, only five per cent have tried e-cigs. Curiosity was the main driver for use, sometimes motivated by seeing a friend or family member trying them.

Two thirds knew that the products can contain nicotine, and 70 per cent said that they are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, said:

"This is an extremely useful survey, that gives us one of the first good indications of young people's awareness and experience of e-cigarettes. Of particular interest is the large number of children who are being exposed to marketing of these products.

"While more research is needed, e-cigarettes are almost certainly less harmful than tobacco, and if people are using them as an aid to quit smoking, that is a good thing. However, the Scottish Government does not believe that children should have access to them. This is the balance we are aiming for in our forthcoming Health Bill.

"We propose a ban on sales to under 18s and on proxy purchase. We also want to prohibit certain forms of domestic advertising to build on European marketing restrictions which will come into force next year. However, we would consult with stakeholders to consider where exemptions might apply, such as at point of sale where adult smokers who might benefit from e-cigarettes and can find out more about the products."

Background:

The full survey can be read here from 27 September: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/09/4481