Scottish Executive launches anti smoking drive

The Scottish Deputy Health Minister has launched a blueprint designed to reduce smoking in Scotland.

The strategy, entitled ‘A breath of fresh air for Scotland’, is the first time that Scotland has a specific programme separate from the overall UK policies. It promises an additional £4mn to stop Scots smoking; consultation on smoking in public places; an emphasis on prevention and education and an expansion of pilot programmes designed to ensure that children under 16 are not being sold cigarettes.

Speaking at the launch in Glasgow, Tom McCabe emphasised that reducing the number of Scots smoking was key to the Executive’s policy of improving the overall health of Scotland, which has long been dubbed the ‘sick man of Europe’. He spoke of the link between social deprivation and ill health and the need for the anti smoking message to reach those groups.

On the key issue of whether legislation would be introduced to outlaw smoking in public places he indicated that his mind was still open, but emphasised the practical difficulties that such a move would bring.

A spokesperson for ASH Scotland, Maureen Moore, welcomed the news of extra investment and the stance taken by the Executive, noting that that ‘tobacco kills 13,000 Scots a year- more than five times the total number killed by alcohol-related illness, illegal drugs and accidents combined.’