In 2017, the Scottish government had announced that it was setting in place a tobacco plan in order to become “smoke-free” by 2034. At the time, the University of Edinburgh and NHS Health Scotland had carried out an inquiry to determine whether efforts to reduce smoking were being effective. This had indicated that while the local tobacco control strategy was working, smoking continued to be a problem amongst low income communities.
“Levels of smoking are still highest in Scotland’s most deprived areas, with 35% of people living in the most deprived areas smoking compared to 10% in the most affluent areas.”
“The evidence shows the positive impact of tobacco policy, ranging from the display ban which put tobacco out of sight in small shops and supermarkets to the introduction on smoke free NHS grounds,” said Dr Garth Reid, principal public health adviser at NHS Health Scotland at the time.
“Yet, levels of smoking are still highest in Scotland’s most deprived areas, with 35% of people living in the most deprived areas smoking compared to 10% in the most affluent areas. It is clear that further action to reduce inequalities in smoking is necessary if the aim of making Scotland tobacco-free by 2034 is to be achieved,” he added.
Smoking rates would need to be dropping twice as fast
Sadly three years later, this seems to still be the case. A recent CRUK analysis has suggested that 12% of adults could still be smokers by 2034 if smoking rates keep declining at the current rate. The charity added that in order for the goal to be achieved smoking rates would need to drop almost twice as fast, with the number of smokers needing to drop by 585,000 from the current amount.
Meanwhile, suggested the analysis, 10% of people in the poorer communities could still be smoking by 2050, as while 2018 data indicate that 19% of all adults still smoke, the smoking rate in the most deprived parts of Scotland was at a high 32%. Additionally, for the first time in seven years, the total number of smokers has increased, from 806,817 in 2017-18 to 808,829 in 2018-19.
Vapers need to be consulted
In 2018, the Scottish Government had published a new tobacco control action plan which had formally banned smoking around hospital buildings, jails, school grounds and also in designated residential buildings or spaces.
However, anti-smoking charity New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) had voiced some reservations with regards to this measure. Referring to a point which stated an intention “to develop guidance for health professionals and other relevant service providers so that they can offer basic advice on e-cigarette use as part of their support for smokers who choose to make quit attempts using e-cigarettes”.
The NNA, said that whilst it welcomed the fact that the devices were being referred to as smoking cessation tools, health professionals may not be the best source of guidance on vaping products and that consumers should be consulted way more than they presently are.
“We have found that some stop smoking services are either unwilling or unable to support smokers who express an interest in e-cigarettes other than to nudge them down the path of licensed pharmaceutical products. For whatever reason, if the Scottish government truly wishes to reach a smoke-free future, they should be utilising the skills and knowledge of vaping consumers instead of placing faith in organisations who have scant understanding of the products,” explained the NNA at the time.
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