By George Hancorn, ITV News' Here's The Story
The Scottish city of Dundee could be the first in the UK to ban shops from selling disposable vapes after a climate activist’s campaign gained huge support.
Environmental science PhD student Laura Young took action after growing tired of seeing the vapes strewn across the streets of her home city.
"In the UK we dispose of about 1.3 million of these every single week", she told ITV News.
Picking up a discarded vape, she said: "I find these everywhere, every single day.
"I went out for a four mile walk. It took about an hour and I found 55 disposable vapes. That's roughly one per minute."
Campaigners like Laura point to the increasingly popularity of the cheap vapes among young people.
Social media is awash with posts from teenagers showing vapes and discussing flavours such as pink lemonade, strawberry banana and mango.These new generation of disposable vapes known as “puff bars” contain nicotine.
While it remains illegal to sell vapes to under-18s, a recent survey found the number of children aged 11 to 17 currently vaping had almost doubled, from 4% in 2020 to 7% in 2022.
The same study, carried out for Action on Smoking and Health, found the number of children aged 11 to 15 who had ever tried a vape had jumped from around 1 in 30 in 2013 to 1 in 10 last year.
North East Scotland MSP Mercedes Villalba, who is backing Laura's environmental campaign in Dundee, said the proposed ban of the sale of disposable vapes among local retailers “isn’t about punishing anyone”.
She told ITV News: “It's just about stopping the practice at source at the producer stage so that we're not seeing single-use, complex plastic products with batteries, which can cause so much environmental damage.
"We're not stopping selling them all in shops. So when you go in, you still be able to get your vape, but it would be a reusable one."
The SNP's Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has previously said his party would be “looking at” a ban across Scotland, with a research group tasked with investigating the impact of the problems.It remains to be seen when the change in Dundee might begin and what impact it could have across and beyond Scotland.But after receiving the overwhelming support of councillors, it’s clear Laura’s mission for a cleaner environment to walk in close to home is a step closer to becoming a reality.
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