Labour and Conservative councillors have hit back after being criticised by the council's SNP group for "failing to support a ban on disposable vapes".

Scotland is to join England and Wales in banning single-use vapes, it was announced at the end of last month, with recommendations made following a UK-wide consultation on smoking and vaping accepted by the Scottish Government.

East Renfrewshire Council’s (ERC) SNP group say they had twice backed motions to ban disposable vapes, first in April 2023 and then in December 2023, however, “these motions failed due to Tory and Labour councillors voting against them.”

As of January 30, “30 of 32 local authorities in Scotland had backed the campaign to ban disposable vapes, making East Renfrewshire an outlier,” they added.

Cllr Annette Ireland, SNP councillor for Clarkston, Netherlee and Williamwood, who seconded the vape motion at both council meetings said: “It is vitally important that East Renfrewshire Council now aligns itself with this crucial campaign.

“I am utterly astounded that consensus could be reached at a national level cross-party and this council has failed to do so.

“The tribal nature of politics in East Renfrewshire is beginning to have an impact on decision making at a council level.

“I am delighted to see that the Scottish Government, UK Government and Welsh Government are working on this together as it is so important that we get it right.”

Cllr David MacDonald, Independent Councillor for Clarkston, Netherlee and Williamwood, who proposed the vape motion at both council meetings said he felt a 'great sense of disappointment' at East Renfrewshire Labour and Conservatives.

Council leader and Labour group leader Cllr Owen O’Donnell, however, said it was disappointing that the SNP group, "which now looks as if it includes Cllr David Macdonald as its spokesperson" is "trying to create a storm in a tea-cup."

“Their first motion to council on disposable vapes failed because it focused on the environmental harms only, it did not address the harms of disposable vapes to the health and wellbeing of our children," he added. 

“If they look at the detail of the motions passed by other councils, they will see that healthcare concerns were prominent in those motions.

“Their second motion failed because it was no longer relevant to call for a ban as both UK and Scottish Governments were successfully cooperating on evidence-based solutions which was welcomed in the Labour amendment.

“To quote from the amendment that was passed ‘council welcomes the cooperation between both governments on sharing evidence to support appropriate policy interventions and would encourage both Governments to proceed with relevant legislation at pace and to take a ‘single UK market’ approach on their implementation.’ 

"And this is what both governments now appear to be doing and that should be welcomed by all.”

The consultation on ‘Creating a Smokefree Generation and Tackling Youth Vaping’ ran across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year.

The report also recommended that powers are taken to restrict vape flavours, how vapes are displayed in stores, their packaging and product presentation, along with powers to regulate other nicotine products.

Conservative councillor Andrew Morrison added: “We need to eliminate underage vaping and council has backed using the measures at our disposal such as test purchasing and better enforcement, as compared to grandstanding on matters which are outwith our powers.”

“Banning single use vapes is not a panacea to reduce the growing number of young people vaping - not when reusable vape kits can be obtained in local shops for around ten pounds.

“The UK announcement covers a wider range of measures such as banning the variety of sweet flavours which attract young people, use of plain packaging and restrictions on product displays.

“I believe these measures will be more useful in curbing underage vaping as they will also apply to reusable vaping products not covered by the proposed ban.

“That’s why it’s clear we need a more sophisticated, wrap-around response - which is what ERC has endorsed, and what the UK Government is now delivering upon.”