ASH Scotland calls for new tobacco reduction action plan

In collaboration with Adfero

A new direction needs to be taken if Scotland is to make further progress in reducing the impact and incidence of smoking, it has been suggested.

While a recently released report from ASH Scotland found that tobacco control has been one of the country's success stories since devolution, smoking remains the country's biggest preventable killer.

The study, titled 'State of the Nation: Measuring progress towards a tobacco-free Scotland', shows that the adult smoking rate in Scotland declined from 31 per cent in 1999 to 24 per cent in 2009, while the proportion of 15-year-olds who regularly smoke fell from 30 per cent in 1996 to 15 per cent in 2008.

Action to reduce the prevalence of smoking among pregnant women has also produced positive results, with the percentage of pregnant women who smoke dropping to 19.2 per cent in 2010 from 29 per cent in 1995.

However, young adults aged between 16 and 24 are now more likely to smoke than they were in 2004.

Meanwhile, smoking continued to be more prevalent in deprived areas, with smoking rates in the poorest parts of Scotland measured at 45 per cent in 2008.

This was significantly higher than the figure of 11 per cent recorded in the most affluent areas.

As such, ASH Scotland has called for more research to be conducted into tobacco use in different groups of the country's population.

It is hoped more information in this field will help policymakers target those who need the most help and ultimately increase life expectancy in deprived areas.

Commenting on the report, ASH Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said: "Tobacco is still Scotland's biggest preventable killer and it is time to explore new ways to continue to reduce the harm caused by this lethal product. The action taken now will pay dividends in the future. Tackling tobacco will bring long term benefits to both the health of our nation and our wider economy."

According to Cancer Research UK, more than one in four cancer deaths in the UK and nine in ten instances of lung cancer can be attributed to smoking.

Smoking accounts for 13,500 adult deaths in Scotland alone, with thousands more suffering from smoking-related illnesses.

Jean King, Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco control, said: "We're pleased that the rate of smoking in Scotland has dropped over the last ten years, which is thanks to measures to help smokers quit, and campaigns to protect children and young people from second hand smoke and tobacco marketing. But there is more to be done to help us reduce the numbers of smokers in Scotland.

"There needs to be a coordinated plan across Scotland to provide and improve services to help smokers give up, alongside measures to prevent people starting to smoke in the first place."