The 2018 data indicated that only 19% of all adults still smoked, but the smoking rate in the most deprived parts of Scotland was at a high 32%.
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.
Sadly, a 2020 CRUK report 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. This conclusion was reached because while 2018 data indicated that only 19% of all adults smoked, 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.
Smokers are consuming more cigarettes during lockdowns
26% of Scottish smokers have increased their cigarette intake since the March 2020 lockdown
Sadly, in line with patterns observed in several other countries, 26% of Scottish smokers have increased their cigarette intake since the March 2020 lockdown. Commenting on this, the UKVIA pointed out that given that vape shops have been once again deemed non-essentials, and their subsequent click-and-collect services are being suspended, smoking rates may get yet another boost.
Naturally, these factors are counterproductive to Scotland achieving a its smoke free target, which could be missed by as much as 16 years according to experts. “Cancer Research UK has already cautioned that Scotland is on course to miss its smoke free target by 16 years,” said UKVIA Director General John Dunne.
“All the nations of the UK must reconsider how they support the vaping industry and the public during lockdown. Squandering the potential of modern, harm-reduction tools is a disaster for public health. I am writing to Ministers and MPs to urge them to protect click-and-collect retail provisions, and the British vaping sector stands ready to support in any way it can.”
Countless studies indciate the effectiveness of e-cigs for smoking cessation
Meanwhile, studies keep indicating the effectivity of vaping products for smoking cessation. A recent local study published in Plos One, aimed to determine the feasibility of distributing e-cigarettes to smokers attending homeless centres in Britain, with the aim of improving their health and ease the financial burden of purchasing cigarettes.
“Providing an e-cigarette starter kit to smokers experiencing homelessness was associated with reasonable recruitment and retention rates and promising evidence of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness,” concluded the researchers.
Sending the wrong message to the public
Similarly, an earlier UK study analysing whether supplying smokers wishing to quit with free e-cigarettes was effective at helping them achieve their goal, had positive results. “On the basis of these results, there may be value in smoking cessation services and other services ensuring that smokers are provided with e-cigarettes at zero or minimal costs for at least a short period of time.”
In light of such findings, and the fact that health authorities such as Public Health England endorse the use of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, it is perplexing that vape shops are still being considered non-essential. This certainly sends the wrong message to the public and goes against all the government’s ongoing efforts at promoting the products as smoking cessation tools.
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