Tackle inequalities to cut smoking rates

Web young woman smoking cigarette

​Charity reveals smoking rates are four times higher in the poorest communities than in the richest

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18th January 2016 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

Smoking rates are four times higher in the poorest communities than in the richest, a new report has claimed.

Figures from Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) Scotland have also revealed that almost half of those who are unemployed and half of adults who are permanently sick or disabled smoke tobacco.

The campaigning charity revealed the statistics as it launched its Scottish Parliament manifesto.

To reduce the harm caused by tobacco we need to look at the pressures which push certain groups to smoke and make it harder for them to quit

It also identified that a third of tobacco is consumed by people with mental health issues

Ash is warning the next Scottish government that it must tackle health inequalities by addressing the social and economic influences which push these groups to smoke and make it more difficult for them to quit.

Chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “Smoking is rarely a simple, freely-made lifestyle choice and is heavily influenced by a range of social and economic factors.

“To reduce the harm caused by tobacco we need to look at the pressures which push certain groups to smoke and make it harder for them to quit.

“Socio-economic status, mental health and the context in which people grew up all have a huge impact on whether they smoke.

“What is clear is that if we could ensure that smoking really was a free adult choice then very few people would do it.”

Following this May's election, Ash is calling for Scottish Government to help the next generation grow up free from tobacco by committing to abide by the principles of Scotland’s Charter for a Tobacco-free Generation.

It stressed very few adults over the age of 25 take up smoking and the government could help put tobacco out of sight and out of fashion by helping shops diversify to sell less harmful products.

Ash is calling for more to be done to help people with mental health problems kick the habit and wants it highlighted that the risk of developing dementia is up to 70% higher amongst those who smoke heavily.

It also wants more resources for police, trading standards and customs officers to continue the fall in sales of fake cigarettes and it wants the government to promote the use of e-cigarettes as a way to quit tobacco.

Duffy added: “Smoking cannot be considered a lifestyle choice when the choices and circumstances faced by different groups are so very different.

“Scotland’s health priority must be to redress that balance and ensure every group has the support they need to take back control of their own health and well-being.”