Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive ASH Scotland
Scotland has achieved significant milestones in tobacco reduction over the last ten years. During this period the country has mainly seen a steady overall decline in smoking rates.
In 2011, following the passing of The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act, the Register of Tobacco Retailers came into force. This required all those selling tobacco to register, and was later extended to include e-cigarettes. It was followed in 2013 by a ban on tobacco vending machines in large shops, with tobacco being put out of sight. The measure came into force for smaller shops in 2015.
The Scottish Government’s “Take it Right Outside” Campaign in 2014 highlighted the dangers of second hand smoke in homes, and dovetailed with the Government’s 2013 commitment to see a generation of young Scots grow up free from the harms of tobacco.
In 2015 the age of sale for tobacco was raised to 18 and in 2016 a ban on smoking in cars with children in vehicles was implemented.
A hotly contested debate in 2016 led to the advent of plain packaging in Scotland, fully implemented in 2017, along with new rules prohibiting the sale of tobacco and nicotine vapour products to under 18s. Most recently, Scotland’s prisons became smoke-free in 2018.
Together, these measures have contributed to the decline in smoking rates in Scotland, and have gone hand- in-hand with efforts to support Scottish people to “Quit Your Way”. That said, our adult smoking rates have flat-lined in recent years and alcohol, obesity, physical exercise and drugs have grabbed the headlines. Tobacco remains Scotland’s largest preventable cause of early death, ending between 9 and 10 thousand lives prematurely each year. This is too dangerous a substance to leave to chance, and we are looking for decisive action from the Government and leadership from Public Health Scotland to build on previous measures.