The Scottish Government has pledged to clamp down on the sale of so-called electronic cigarettes as the number of people using them continues to rocket.
Several shops selling the product have opened across the Falkirk district in recent months, matching a national trend which has led to an estimated 1.3 million people now using the miniature vaporisers.
Despite tough new laws banning the display of traditional cigarettes in shops coming into force last year, there are currently no restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes.
That means ‘e-cig shops’ are free to sell to children and advertise on television – although most businesses choose to enforce a strict over-18s policy.
Many users of e-cigarettes claim they are a safer option to smoking and have helped them to quit or at least cut down their habit.
Jacquie Russell is director of Emporium Vapour in Falkirk’s Dalderse Avenue.
“E-cigarettes are an alternative to smoking,” she said.
“We already comply to trading standards and do not sell to customers under-18.”
Public health experts are divided on whether the products are harmful, but restrictions on e-cigarette sales now seem certain.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “E-cigarettes are not currently regulated, nor have they been proven to be safe and effective and the use of these devices risks normalising smoking behaviours.
“It is the intention of the Scottish Government to regulate the use of e-cigarettes within future legislation for the benefit of public health.”
“The case for restricting the sale of e-cigarettes to young people is one that makes sense but we need to work through the practicalities before bringing forward specific plans.”
Several nationwide companies such as Wetherspoons and Megabus have voluntarily decided to ban customers from using E-cigarettes on their premises.
The UK government planned to impose stringent testing on e-cigarettes by classing them as medical products, but it was thwarted when the European Parliament decided they are consumer products - unless the cartridges contain more than 20mg/ml of nicotine. It now plans to draft alternative legislation.