Press release

Vape campaigner working with MPs and MSPs to develop new laws

Published on 26 March 2024

PhD student Laura Young - also know as social media influencer Less Waste Laura - is helping create new laws around the banning of disposable vapes

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An environmental scientist who spent a year campaigning for the banning of disposable vapes, is working with MPs and MSPs to develop new laws.

Laura Young, a PhD student jointly supervised by the University of Dundee and Abertay University, is part of a group working to develop new legislation around the banning of single use vapes.

Set to come into force on April 1 next year, Laura’s input is to ensure these new laws avoid any unintended consequences from an environmental and wider ethical perspective.

The 27-year-old, who lives in Dundee, said, “All sectors need to work together, and that needs to continue to get the best legislation.

“It’s about shaping what new legislation looks like, closing any loopholes, and assessing the consequences and how we can resolve them.

“It’s also about asking how we can battle youth vaping – we don’t want to see other products popping up. We don’t want it to turn into whack-a-mole, when we get rid of one problem then another one pops up.”

Laura, who was named Scottish Influencer of the Year in recognition of her campaign, is working with a group of stakeholders to help advise ministers to build this legislation.

She is no stranger to broaching the topic to decision makers, having previously spoken at Westminster advocating a ban of single use vaping devices. 

Woman holding a jar filled with discarded disposable vapes, standing outside Westminster

Known as Less Waste Laura on social media platforms, her campaign began in September 2022 after her dog emerged from bushes during his daily walk carrying a disposable vape in his mouth.

Her initial post on social media went viral and she became one of the first to take up the issue publicly.

She said, “I took this up as an environmental issue, how it can impact on climate change and plastic pollution, and it achieved environmental support.

“But it’s not just a litter problem, there’s also the health aspect and the high risks around kids using them. There are so many issues around them, it was clear what I needed to do.”

Grassroots approach to campaigning

Laura contacted every councillor in Scotland last March – ten months before the government announced plans to ban disposable vapes – resulting in cross-party support and 29 out of 32 local authority areas backing a ban.

She says the engagement of so many decision-makers at every level of government was a major contributor to the success of the movement to ban single use vapes.

However, her campaigning was not without challenges from the vaping industry, business owners and individual vapers, who questioned her motivation.

Despite these setbacks, Laura has spoken at several events and her grassroots approach gained support from various environmentalists, public health professionals and community members.

She added, “It’s given me a lot of faith in the power we have as regular people to make change through uprising.

“This campaign is full of people saying ‘here’s my thoughts’ and that’s why it’s so powerful.

“We know we need to make changes, and communities need to be at the heart of that.”

Get involved 

Through her PhD, Laura investigates the links between climate resilience, nature-based solutions, and community engagement and she has been conducting research in parallel with her vape campaign.

She believes community action and local voices are crucial in tackling climate change and is now gathering opinions of Scottish students.

Anyone who would like to participate should fill out this short questionnaire. Participants will have a chance to win one of five £50 vouchers.


Sheanne Mulholland

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 385423