CONCERNS over rising levels of vaping in young people have been raised in parliament by a Clacks representative.

MSP Alexander Stewart, co-convener of the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Lung Health, is calling on the government to act swiftly and reduce the visibility of electronic cigarettes and similar products in supermarkets and community shops.

The Mid Scotland and Fife representative recently spoke in a debate over the issue, having worked closely with charities such as Breathe Easy.

His concerns are shared by the government, which consulted last year on restrictions on advertising and promotion of such products.

Mr Stewart, smoking cessation champion for Asthma+Lung UK, said: “Scotland is seeing, by default, arguably as a result of clever but cynical marketing, a fast-evolving and shockingly ever-younger group of vapers appearing, with many reports of children of primary school age caught using vaping products; some we believe are as young as seven years old.”

So-called vapes, e-cigarettes or nicotine vaping products (NVPs), heat up liquid to create a vapour to be inhaled and have become a popular alternative to smoking tobacco.

While current evidence suggests these are less harmful than regular cigarettes, they are not harm-free and long-term effects are not yet known.

Flavourings in liquids have been cleared as safe, but are only known to be safe when eaten.

Opinion is understood to be divided among scientists and health professionals.

Mr Stewart said: “Although – rather sadly – it will be the passage of time which will bear out further evidence, as there is still much that we do not know about electronic cigarettes.

“But we do know for sure that they are absolutely not risk-free.

“Our lungs were only ever designed to process oxygen from the air that we breathe and the flavours in NVPs were only ever passed for use in the food industry, so were never intended to be inhaled into people’s lungs.

“So why do ever more young users deliberately and consciously introduce harmful chemicals into such delicate and growing organs that are so necessary for life?”

A Scottish Government spokesperson told the Advertiser they were “very concerned” by reports of children and young people obtaining vaping products.

They said: “Vaping is one of the possible tools available to existing smokers to help stop tobacco use; however, they’re not a lifestyle accessory.”

Consultation on advertising and promotion restriction has taken place last year, any action will build on regulations already in place.

“The findings from the consultation will be used to inform the refreshed Tobacco Action Plan, which is due to be published later this year,” the spokesperson added.