Tightening rules on advertising and promoting vaping products

Closed 29 Apr 2022

Opened 3 Feb 2022

Feedback updated 28 Sep 2022

We asked

The Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Act 2016 (“the 2016 Act”) introduced legislation around restrictions on purchase and sale of NVPs in Scotland e.g. restrictions on sales to under 18’s. The restrictions in the 2016 Act apply to vaping products that contain and do not contain nicotine.

The 2016 Act contains regulation making powers to further restrict the advertising and promotion of NVPs. On 3 February 2022, the Scottish Government published a consultation seeking views on our proposals to make regulations under sections 17 to 19 of the 2016 Act, which would introduce restrictions on the following:

  • advertising
  • brand-sharing in products and services
  • free distribution and nominal pricing
  • sponsorship of an activity, event or person

Views were also sought on exemptions to the Regulations to ensure that NHS and charities would not be restricted in terms of promoting NVPs as an aid to stopping smoking.

The consultation then sought views on potential offences and penalties, with statutory exceptions and defences. This focused on the views around mirroring those already in existence for equivalent restrictions on tobacco products in the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 .

You said

  1. A total of 757 validated responses were received to the consultation and the vast majority were from individuals. Organisations that submitted a response included local government, health organisations, the tobacco industry, the vaping sector, and other organisations (e.g. those that sell tobacco and vaping related products).


  1. The consultation attracted polarising views. Individual responses to closed questions in the consultation were typically split 50:50 (i.e. roughly the same proportion of individuals support the Scottish Government proposals as those individuals who do not support the proposals).


  1. Local government and health organisations were in general were supportive of the proposals. The vaping sector, tobacco industry, and other organisations with a financial interest in the sale and distribution of vaping product (e.g. those that sell tobacco and vaping related products) were less likely to be supportive of the proposals.


  1. The themes from the consultation responses can be categorised broadly into the following areas:
  • Need to raise awareness of the benefits of vaping as one option around smoking cessation
  • Need to provide accurate, person-focused information around cessation
  • Impact of packaging, flavouring and content on the appeal of vaping
  • Views on the alignment with current tobacco legislation
  • Role of specialist retailers
  • Need to adequately support current enforcement routes such as Trading Standards

We did

EKOS was commissioned to undertake an independent analysis of responses. The report presents the findings from the public consultation and explains the methodology that was used to analyse responses.

Where permission to publish has been provided, the consultation responses are now available to view online.

The responses, together with the analysis report, and responses from the consultation as part of the 2016 Act, will inform and shape the final Vaping restriction regulations.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Vaping products (electronic cigarettes) have become popular over the past decade as an alternative to smoking tobacco. While current evidence shows that vapes are less harmful than smoking tobacco, they are not harm-free and we do not know what damage they could cause to human health in the long-term.

Lots of studies have looked into the question of whether vapes can damage human health after long-term use. Some have found they are relatively safe while others have found using these products can damage lungs in similar ways to smoking tobacco. The flavourings in vape liquids have been cleared as safe products, but they are only known to be safe when eaten. It is not clear how safe they really are when breathed into the lungs or what that could do to the body over time.

Opinion is divided among scientists, health professionals and governments on whether vapes are a good or bad product in terms of human health. Different approaches have been taken around their use with some countries banning vape products altogether and others promoting their use as an alternative to smoking tobacco. 

The Scottish Government has taken a cautious approach to vapes and think they are a helpful tool for people who still use tobacco to stop smoking and move onto a product which is known to be less harmful - at least in the short term. But most vapes and electronic cigarettes contain nicotine which his highly addictive. Non-smokers, particularly young people, should not take up vaping to prevent becoming addicted to nicotine. Vape products should only be used as a way to stop smoking tobacco and people should aim to use vapes for a short time. 

This consultation asks for views on whether the Scottish Government should bring in new rules to limit the way vape products can be advertised and promoted. Vapes should be thought of as a stop-smoking aid to help people quit an addiction known to be very damaging to health. These products should not be promoted for general use.   

Read the consultation paper.

Why your views matter

The Scottish Government is committed to protecting the health of all those living in this country and to prevent new health problems in the future. As we do not have the evidence needed to show what the long-term impact of vaping will have on the human body we would like to see vapes used only as a stop-smoking tool. 

Limiting how vape products are marketed and promoted could help ensure that people don't try vaping and get addicted to nicotine, potentially causing long-term damage to their health. Your views on whether these restrictions are needed to stop non-smokers from taking up vaping, and potentially becoming hooked on nicotine, will help us decide how best to protect the public from potential harms.

We aim to reduce smoking rates to five percent of the population or less by 2034. Vaping products could help us achieve that and also help people to stop smoking - which is known to be very harmful to health. This is a difficult balance to strike and your views in helping to find that are valuable.  


  • Health and Social Care