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We are monitoring developments in the US and elsewhere closely, following the loss of life that has been attributed to vaping. To date, though, we have not seen any cases of deaths that are attributed to vaping being reported in Europe. Our approach has been a precautionary one, which is why in Scotland we have already taken the strictest regulatory approach in Europe to vapour products. The European tobacco products directive restricts the advertising of e-cigarettes and ensures that e-liquids cannot contain ingredients that are known to be harmful. The directive also limits the concentration of nicotine in e-liquids. In Scotland, we have also introduced a retail register and a mandatory age verification scheme and we have funded trading standards departments in all council areas to ensure that retailers comply with the regulations. In the coming months, we will consult on introducing a complete ban on the advertising and promotion of vapour products.
As this Parliament has just highlighted idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis—or IPF—week, does the First Minister agree that any action to move forward with regard to vaping and e-cigarette products needs to be carried out by listening to experts, following robust evidence-based research and always focusing on what is in the best interests of the public health of the people of Scotland?
Yes, I absolutely agree with that. It is important to stress, and for all of us to remember, that those devices are relatively new and, therefore, their impact continues to be studied. We do not yet fully understand what that impact is, which is why the approach that we have taken has been very cautious. That is perhaps a reason why e-cigarette use remains relatively low in Scotland. We remain committed to following the best evidence to take any steps necessary to ensure that people are protected from potential harm. While we already have among the strictest regimes on those products, if the evidence shows that further action is needed, I assure the member that we will not hesitate to take it.