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Should we ban vaping? Health experts clash over e-cig fears

Professor Sherif Sultan and professor Linda Bauld joined the debate on Scotland Tonight on Thursday.

Vaping: The Scottish Government could ban advertising for e-cigarettes and products.
Vaping: The Scottish Government could ban advertising for e-cigarettes and products.

Two health professionals have clashed over whether vaping should be outlawed completely after the First Minister revealed the Scottish Government could ban advertising for e-cigarettes and products.

Nicola Sturgeon said a consultation on the move would take place in the “coming months”.

She pledged if evidence supported further regulations on the sale of such products her Government would “not hesitate” to act.

Sturgeon spoke out after being asked about deaths in the US that have been attributed to vaping.

Three confirmed incidents and two probable Massachusetts cases of vaping-associated pulmonary disease have already been reported to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

While an estimated 3.6 million people in the UK use e-cigarettes and vaping devices – up from 3.2 million in 2018 – Ms Sturgeon said their popularity in Scotland was still “relatively low”.

Scotland Tonight: Professor Sherif Sultan and professor Linda Bauld disagreed. STV

During a debate on Scotland Tonight on Thursday, two health professionals clashed over whether vaping should be banned completely.

Professor Linda Bauld, a public health expert from the University of Edinburgh, believes it is about harm reduction when it comes to e-cigs and is warning that millions will return to smoking if vaping is banned outright.

While professor Sherif Sultan, a vascular surgeon, believes all nicotine is dangerous whether it is smoked from a traditional cigarette or a vape.

Professor Bauld said: “It is about harm reduction – and we have over three million people who have switched to vaping in the UK.

“So to take those products off the market, having worked with smokers for many years, I know that what will happen is they will go back to smoking, and that will inevitably result in hundreds of thousands of deaths in the future.”

Professor Sultan responded: “I don’t agree with that.

“Nicotine is dangerous regardless of whether they’re going to take it e-vaping or through smoking.

“I am totally against both of them.”

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions this week, Sturgeon said: “Our approach has been a precautionary one, which is why in Scotland we have already taken the strictest regulatory approach in Europe to vaping products, the European Tobacco Products Directive restricts the advertising of e-cigarettes and ensures e-liquids can’t contain ingredients which are known to be harmful.

“The directive also limits the concentration of nicotine in e-liquids.

“In Scotland we’ve also introduced a retail register, a mandatory age verification scheme and we have funded traded standards departments in all council areas to ensure that retailers comply with the regulations.

“And in the coming months we will consult on introducing a complete ban on the advertising and promotion of vapour products.”

She added: “These are relatively new devices and therefore their impact continues to be studied, we don’t fully yet understand what that impact is.”

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