Health warning as smoking figures stay static


More impetus needed to reignite anti-smoking campaign 

3rd October 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Smoking rates are static since 2013, despite a world-leading government target to make Scotland tobacco-free by 2034.

Campaigners fear lack of action could lead to figures edging back upwards if more positive action to combat smoking isn’t introduced.

The latest Scottish Health Survey data shows 21% of adults smoked in 2016 - the same as the 21% recorded in 2015 and 2013, meaning there hasn’t been a fall in smoking for three years.

The Scottish Government’s data suggest that 17% or fewer Scots would need to have been smokers last year to meet the 2034 goal.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of health charity Ash Scotland, has warned that unless action is taken Scotland will fall behind:

“It's tempting to imagine that smoking is on its way out with no action needed. Today's disappointing figures show how wrong that idea is. With a new government tobacco strategy coming up next year, we must redouble our efforts and also start to look at smoking in a whole new light.

“In particular, we have to look at smoking in the poorest areas of Scotland. People in the most deprived fifth of the country are more than three times as likely to smoke as those in the richest fifth – even though they’re just as likely to want to quit.

"That isn’t fair. We need targeted help and support for the people who need it the most.”

In response, Ash Scotland has listed five ways to get Scotland’s target back on track including government advertising; more support for the most deprived communities; incentives for retailers to kick the habit; specialist help for those trying to quit; and more involvement from the NHS.

Duffy continued: “There are lots of other things we can do. Advertising campaigns are highly successful and can reach lots of people. Working with the NHS, money advice services and other organisations to offer more support to quit more often can work wonders.

“And specialist help should mean reaching everyone in society. When more than a third of tobacco is smoked by people with mental health conditions, it’s clear there’s more work to do.”