Stub it out: Number of Scots trying to quit smoking drops by more than half

The number of Scots both quitting and attempting to quit smoking has fallen significantly, new figures show.

Data from Public Health Scotland has revealed that between 2018/19 and 2021/22, the number of attempts to stop dropped from 51,115 to 23,503.

There were 3,913 successful attempts at quitting which lasted more than 12 weeks in 2021/22 – a fall from 7,258 in 2018/19.

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Public Health Scotland notes that the measurements were changed in 2018/19 to exclude attempts at quitting in prisons, meaning figures prior to this period are based on different definitions and therefore cannot be directly compared.

The Scottish Government is aiming to reduce the number of smokers in Scotland to 5% of the population by 2034, with the Scottish Conservatives stating the latest figures will be a “hammer blow” to that ambition.

The party’s health spokesman, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said: “These figures are worrying because, as well as doing huge damage to the health of the individual, smoking places a huge burden on our over-stretched NHS.

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“Like many of the issues facing Scotland’s health service, the pandemic has merely exacerbated a pre-existing problem.

“The number of people trying to give up smoking has been falling for years on the SNP’s watch, at the same time as spending on programmes designed to help them quit has been reduced in real terms.

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A huge number of Scots are no longer quitting and attempting to quit smoking

“That’s a completely false economy – and it’s those living in Scotland’s poorer communities who are suffering disproportionately from it.”

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He added: “Giving up smoking is extremely difficult, and those who want to quit need all the help they can get.”