Radical new plans revealed to turn Scotland smoke free by 2034

Ministers unveiled the plans to make Scotland smoke-free by 2034. Picture: Toby Williams
Ministers unveiled the plans to make Scotland smoke-free by 2034. Picture: Toby Williams
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A ban on smoking in council homes is among a raft of radical new measures being considered as part of the “next steps” unveiled by ministers to make Scotland smoke-free by 2034.

A crackdown on smoking in open public places where children are present such as play parks is also included in a new blueprint published yesterday, while smoking outside hospitals will be outlawed. Cigarettes will be banned completely in prisons, as well as on communal stairwells, under the proposals.

The new strategy was unveiled yesterday by ministers after recent figures showed smoking cessation in Scotland had fallen to a record low, prompting fears the 2034 target may not be reached.

Pro-smoking campaigners insist the crackdown is out of step with public opinion.

About one in five Scots – equivalent to 850,000 adults – are still lighting up and numbers have stabilised in recent years following a decade of steady decline. The 2034 smoke-free ambition would see numbers fall below 5 per cent.

Public health minister Aileen Campbell insisted “good progress” had been made.

But she said: “Now it’s time to set out our next steps.

“The action plan I’m publishing demonstrates our commitment to the new public health priorities, which include an ambition for a Scotland free from the harms caused by alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. All of these together can create a healthier Scotland.”

Dozens of new measures were unveiled in a document entitled Raising Scotland’s Tobacco-Free Generation.

They include the prospect of “tobacco-free” clauses in tenancy agreements for people living in council and housing association homes, which will now be explored by ministers and social landlords. There could also be “smoke-free” housing alternatives offered in social housing.

Open public areas will also be targeted as part of a new crackdown with play parks, school grounds and the school gates to be the subject of awareness-raising campaigns. These will be aimed at making smoking “less acceptable” and reducing the visibility of smoking among children.

The ban outside hospital buildings was part of legislation introduced two years ago, but ministers have not yet implemented the regulations to make it an offence. This will be done later this year and means smoking will be outlawed within 15m of hospital buildings.

A full ban will also be implemented in prisons, ending the “stop-gap” arrangement that allows inmates to smoke in their cells and in exercise areas. E-cigarettes will still be allowed in Scots jails under new regulations.

Universities and schools will also be targeted as part of a drive to make them “smoke free”. Schemes which provide financial incentives for smokers to kick the habit, including shopping vouchers, are also to be extended around the country after being successfully piloted in Tayside and Lanarkshire.

Scotland was the first part of the UK to introduce the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces such as pubs and restaurants in 2006 and brought in plain packaging to de-glamourise the habit.

But Simon Clark, from pro-smoking campaign Forest, said polling showed more than half of Scots think anti-smoking laws had gone too far and back a more relaxed approach in prisons and hospitals.

“The Scottish political establishment is clearly out of step with the general public, who support fair and reasonable restrictions on where people can smoke, not prohibition,” he said.

But Sheila Duffy, from anti-smoking group Ash Scotland, said: “I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has renewed its commitment to a tobacco-free generation by 2034 – the vision for putting cigarettes completely out of fashion by the time today’s children reach adulthood.”