Mouthpiece: Not so sick man of Europe

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Scotland’s reputation as the sick man of Europe is under threat. The combined effect of a range of tobacco control measures, like the introduction of smoke-free public places, is making a real difference to the health and lives of our nation.

Last week saw the 50th anniversary of the Royal College of Physicians report into Smoking and Health – the first major report into the causal relationship between tobacco and serious disease.

Smoking prevalence since that report has dropped from 80 per cent to 26 per cent among men and 43 per cent to 23 per cent among women. The latest survey of young people’s drug and alcohol use reported the lowest smoking prevalence rates amongst 13 and 15-year-olds since figures began in 1982.

People’s exposure to second-hand smoke has been significantly reduced and, six years later, we are seeing the benefits.

The tobacco industry, and those lobby groups who campaign on their behalf, would have you believe that this isn’t the case. They are running scared. They know that tobacco control is working, and that it is value for money – especially as harm from tobacco costs this country more each year than the tax revenue it raises.

Further tobacco control measures, like plain packaging and removing displays in shops, will help protect our children and young people from the hooks of the tobacco industry and provide a healthier and stronger Scotland for the future.

• Sheila Duffy is chief executive of anti-tobacco charity ASH Scotland