Scottish Government launches tobacco control strategy, including a target to have less than 5% of the population smoking by 2034
A tobacco control strategy launched by the Scottish Government in Fife today (March 27) aims to see less than 5% of Scotland’s population choosing to smoke by 2034.
Scottish minister for public health Michael Matheson said reaching the target “would be which we could all be proudâ€? and that Scotland was the third nation in the world to set the target of becoming virtually ‘tobacco-free’, after New Zealand (by 2025) and Finland (by 2040).
The new five-year strategy supports the introduction of standardised tobacco packaging and investing in education programmes to prevent young people from taking up smoking.
It also includes proposals to improve services to help people stop smoking as well as implementing smoke-free hospital grounds in the country by 2015.
There are a series of measures to protect people from the harms caused by second-hand smoke, such as a national marketing campaign on second-hand smoke’s dangers and setting a target for a ‘substantial’ reduction in children’s exposure to second-hand smoke.
Mr Matheson launched the strategy during a visit to an education programme for 16-24 year olds in Carnegie College, Fife.
Mr Matheson said: “We’ve already seen the huge health benefits that followed the ban on smoking in public places. This Government is determined to build on this success, improving health and reducing health inequalities by reducing the number of people smoking.
“Our vision of a tobacco-free generation is about reaping the health, social and economic benefits that a significant reduction in smoking would bring – it would be an achievement of which we could all be proud. That’s why strong and decisive action, like standardised packaging and increased education, are the right steps to prevent young people from taking up smoking.â€?
The proposals to introduce plain tobacco packaging, as has happened in Australia, have drawn support from the likes of Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation Scotland and smoking campaign group ASH Scotland.
Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Replacing glitzy, brightly coloured packs that appeal to children with standard packs displaying prominent health warnings would be a huge public health achievement and give youngsters one less reason to start smoking.â€?
Commenting on the evidence base for impacts of introducing plain tobacco packaging, Linda Bauld, professor of health policy, University of Stirling said: “The findings are very consistent and show that plain packaging would reduce the appeal of cigarettes, improve the impact of health warnings on packs and help to reduce misunderstandings about the harmfulness of smoking.
“As part of the other actions set out in this strategy, plain packaging will have a key role to play in driving down smoking rates in Scotland in the future.â€?
According to the Scottish Government, it will await the UK government and Welsh Government responses to the UK wide consultation on standardised packaging before deciding on the most appropriate legislative option for introducing this initiative.
More information on the Scottish Government’s tobacco control strategy is available on its website.
In February 2013, the Scottish Government placed a ban on the open display of tobacco products in large shops and sales from self-service vending machines that will come into force from April 29 2013 (see airqualitynews.com story).