Businesses and smokers alike are waiting to see how the Scottish Government will proceed with plans to regulate the e-cigarette industry.
A consultation on whether the sale of electronic cigarettes, commonly known as vaporisers, to under-18s should be banned ended on January 2.
The popularity of such devices has soared in recent years, with many users of e-cigarettes claiming they are a safer option to smoking and have helped them to quit or at least cut down their habit.
Several dedicated stores have opened across the Falkirk district, matching a national trend which has led to an estimated 1.5 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.
Ministers are considering making it illegal for an adult to buy e-cigarettes for someone under age as well as restricting advertising of the devices.
Members of the public were also asked their views on banning smoking in a car if there is a child on board.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Electronic cigarettes are relatively new, and there is very little regulation of their sale and use. This consultation is the first step towards proper regulation of the devices in Scotland. We will carefully consider the responses and decide what are the most appropriate next steps.”
Meanwhile, small shops are being reminded that a ban on displaying tobacco products comes into effect on April 6.
Herald readers join e-cigarette debate
Falkirk Herald readers have been sharing their views on how best to regulate the e-cigarette industry on our popular Facebook page.
Avril Grieve said: “I don’t smoke and I hate walking out of a pub, shopping centre or restaurant through a smoke cloud. It bothers me a lot more than e-cigarettes. They don’t smell, they don’t set off my asthma or my kid’s asthma and they’re helping people quit so I don’t see the problem with them.”
Evelyn Malcolm said: “Whether they help people to stop or not, they should be regulated in the same way as cigarettes because the possible health effects are not known.”
Andrew Fellows was dubious of their supposed benefits. “They don’t help you quit,” he said. “They may take you away from cigarette but it’s still the habit of putting something to your mouth and inhaling a non-harmful(for now) mist. Until they are 100 per cent rated safe then yes, they should be banned like cigarettes.”