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Smoking in numbers: Do e-cigarettes help Scots quit?

RESULTS from the annual Scottish Health Survey found that 1 in 20 Scots now use electric cigarettes.

The figures, which were published yesterday, found 5 per cent of Scottish adults regularly use e-cigarettes, with triple that number having tried them.

Younger age groups are more likely to use e-cigarettes

Younger age groups are more likely to use e-cigarettes

The annual survey, for which nearly 4,700 adults in Scotland were interviewed, gives a snapshot of the nation’s health as well as the smoking habits of Scots.

One in five (22 percent) of those over 16 in Scotland now define themselves as smokers, a proportion similar to 2013 levels.
Among the group of ex-smokers surveyed, 7 per cent were found to currently use e-cigarettes while 14 per cent said they had never used them. When asked about what they had used in

their most recent attempt to quit, 64 per cent of recent ex-smokers and current smokers say they’d used nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or e-cigarettes.

The most common items used during their recent quit attempts were nicotine patches (36 per cent) and e-cigarettes (32 per cent).

Research Director at ScotCen Social Research Diarmid Campbell-Jack said: “These findings confirm that e-cigarettes are being used by a small, but not insignificant proportion of people in Scotland with one in every twenty saying that they currently use electric cigarettes.

“It’s important that the role of e-cigarettes isn’t overestimated, particularly until more is known about their long term consequences, however the more that we see a decline in usage of tobacco cigarettes the better for the future of health in Scotland.”

Commisioned by the Scottish government the health report, has been running annually for 20 years.

The study also found evidence to suggest that smokers from the most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to smoke compared to those from the least deprived.

Maureen Watt, Scottish Government Minister for Public Health, said: “This survey gives us some useful information about what the situation is in Scotland.

“Further research on the health impacts of e-cigarettes on both users and bystanders is needed, and we will continue to monitor evidence. However, current evidence suggests e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco and if using them helps smokers quit entirely then that is to be welcomed.”

The use of e-cigarettes as a potential coping mechanism by smokers attempting to quit has been noted by some health campaigners.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Scotland said: “It’s encouraging that the majority of adults who smoke in Scotland want to quit and for some, e-cigarettes seem to be an acceptable alternative to smoking, or a way of quitting cigarettes. Scotland has a vision for putting cigarettes – the most lethal and addictive consumer product on open sale – out of sight, out of mind and out of fashion for the next generation.

“There are still many unknowns about e-cigarettes but what we do know suggests that lit, smoked tobacco is a lot more harmful to health. Even low levels of smoking are dangerous, and I’d encourage people using both cigarettes and e-cigarettes to drop tobacco as soon as possible.

“Different ways of quitting work for different smokers. Some people find it easier than they expected just to stop. Some find they need nicotine replacement therapy or other medicines. For some, changing their habits works best. There is free expert advice on stopping smoking available from local stop smoking services and pharmacies.”

Tobacco evidence – The Scotsman
Subject: Tobacco evidence – The Scotsman

Dear Sir,

I refer to the letter from Neil McKeganey (11 Sep 2015) in response to Sheila Duffy of ASH Scotland.

On the writer’s own website ( he lists Big Tobacco among his funding sources: Philip Morris / BAT/ Nicoventures & also Reckitt Benckiser BAT’s CEO Nicandro Duranante was appointed as a Non-Exec Director of Reckitt Benckiser Group plc in December 2013.

GTNF – Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum aka the ‘Davos of Tobacco’ since 2008,  is a yearly gathering of tobacco industry executives, invited front groups & paid friends of the industry where tricks of the trade are exchanged.

“what really distinguishes the GTNF is its “two-way traffic” approach. The essence of the forum and workshop sessions is interaction, conversation, debate, consensus—a sharing of knowledge, expertise and wisdom”

The writer is a repeat yearly speaker/panelist at GTNF conferences dating back numerous years & is scheduled to attend GTNF in Bologna this month

Big Tobacco does not invite dissenting voices to speak at its own industry conferences.

Indeed the writer sees nothing wrong with convicted Rico racketeers funding selective research

“it is a predatory industry whose market dynamics  demand that it recruits young people. It does this by deploying vast promotional expenditures to create, communicate & amplify a set of positive values associated with the product. Once the glamour phase subsides, nicotine addiction takes over making the customer dependent on the product & securing a profitable cash flow. Trapped by nicotine addiction, the smoker is subject to a variety of sub-lethal illnesses which culminate in a one in two probability of death through smoking-related disease. The smoker’s death means a replacement customer must be found – and the cycle begins again”

“After combing through nearly 50 million pages of previously secret, internal tobacco-industry documents, UC Davis and UC San Francisco  researchers say they have documented for the first time how the industry funded & used scientific studies to undermine evidence linking secondhand smoke to cardiovascular disease.”

Moreover, another frequent speaker at the GTNF conferences each year is Dr Delon Human, a South African doctor based in Switzerland who was funded by BAT to write a book on nicotine.

Human’s EuroSwiss Health company along with LIAF (Italian anti tobacco foundation) funded the recent Nutt report  relied upon by PHE for its ‘e-cigs 95% safer’ report.

The chief executive of LIAF is Dr Riccardo Polosa. A search of Legacy tobacco documents online reveals 134 links for ‘Polosa’ & shows his University department received Euro 400,000 study funding from PMI 12 years ago. Another regular GTNF panelist is South African opthamologist Kgiso Letlape with connections to Delon Human thru the African Medical Assn.

Polosa & Letlape are amongst the authors of the Nutt report funded by Human /LIAF and the writer rubs shoulders with them at the GTNF conferences. Another Nutt report author, K Fagerstrom is shown as a recipient of industry funding.  (the Davos of Tobacco)

As for the writer’s query on the effectiveness of killing the ‘Silent Salesman’ (the last available advertising outlet for Big T = the pack) combined with a multi pronged approach of increased taxation , health warnings replacing the glitz & control of point of display, Health Australia states:

Q: Have any early impacts of tobacco plain packaging been identified?

A: Research undertaken during the roll-out phase of the tobacco plain packaging legislation, when both plain and branded packs were available found that plain packaged cigarettes with larger health warnings increased smokers’ urgency to quit and lowered the appeal of smoking

Australia’s plain packaging laws successful, studies show The first comprehensive evaluation of Australia’s ground-breaking plain packaging tobacco laws shows they are working, the Victorian Cancer Council says.

Fourteen separate studies on the impact of plain packaging in its first year were published today in a special supplement to the British Medical Journal.

The research found after the laws were implemented, there was a “statistically significant increase” in the number of people thinking about & making attempts to quit smoking

Readers must query the possible bias and intentions of the correspondent with a pinch of salt, which is also bad for the health.

People in glass houses should not throw stones.


James Middleton



00:29 Friday 11 September 2015


Sheila Duffy (Letters, 9 September), like many single-issue lobbyists, celebrates the data that confirms her view while casually disregarding other evidence that contradicts it.

In her letter, she refers to the dozens of studies that have focused on tobacco plain packaging without mentioning the “inconvenient finding” that not a single one of those studies has actually shown a reduction in smoking prevalence attributable to plain packaging.

In advance of this policy being implemented in Australia, leading tobacco control researchers were advising that plain packaging would result in a 1 per cent reduction in adult smoking 
and a 3 per cent reduction in children’s smoking within two
years of the policy being implemented.

Those same researchers are now advising that plain packaging may be a “slow burn distal” influence on smoking with its impact best considered in the long term when it is used alongside a whole host of other tobacco control measures such as taxation.

Tobacco plain packaging was implemented as a way of reducing smoking prevalence and while it may well reduce the 
attractiveness of smoking, nobody ever died from the attractiveness of a cigarette packet.

The key to reducing smoking-related health harm, as Duffy well knows, is to reduce smoker numbers.

Those who advocated for plain packaging should be demanding the evidence on whether it has reduced smoker numbers rather than switching the assessment criteria to a range of soft, subjective measures, such as determining if plain packaging reduces the appeal of smoking.

Neil McKeganey PhD

Centre for Drug Misuse Research Glasgow

19:56 Tuesday 08 September 2015


In THE midst of a recent article about alcohol minimum unit pricing, Neil McKeganay, from the Centre for Drug Misuse Research, casually dismisses proposals for standardised tobacco packaging as lacking in evidence. Far from being rushed this policy has been years in the making, and the subject of dozens of studies – I wish all policy initiatives were so carefully considered and had such strong public support.

Plain, standardised packaging makes the look of tobacco more truthful and is designed to disrupt tobacco companies’ attempts to hook in new consumers through presenting their product as sophisticated, rugged or slimming. In 2011 the UK Department of Health commissioned a systematic review of 37 studies on the likely impact of standardised packaging, later updated with 17 further studies. This evidence consistently demonstrated that standard packs would reduce the appeal of tobacco products and increase people’s awareness of health warnings.

In Australia where tobacco has been sold in standardised packaging since December 2012, all the early signs are encouraging. Smokers say the cigarettes don’t taste as good, and that they are more likely to think about quitting. Smoking rates in Australia are plummeting. Figures from the Australian department of health show that tobacco consumption in the first quarter of 2014 was at the lowest ever recorded.

McKeganay’s own tobacco-industry funded group claims an interest in researching “harm reduction”. Standardised tobacco packaging is a well-evidenced harm reduction measure.

Sheila Duffy

ASH Scotland Frederick Street Edinburgh

Call for tobacco levy to fund non-smoking advertising as those quitting through NHS drop by a third in a year

CAMPAIGNERS have called for a levy on tobacco industry profits to fund mass media advertising of official smoking services as the numbers trying to quit using NHS assistance in Scotland fell by almost a third in a year.

Martin Williams

Scots made 73,338 attempts to give up cigarettes using health service help last year according to provisional official figures, a fall of 31per cent from 2013.

It also reveals that there were 2,876 quit attempts made by pregnant women, a drop of 73 on 2013, although an NHS statistics report says this may be partly accounted for by incomplete submissions.

The NHS report says a “plausible explanation” for the fall in quit attempts through NHS services would be the rise in the use of e-cigarettes.

A poll carried out by the ASH Scotland anti-smoking charity in April 2014 found that 45 per cent of current smokers in Scotland had tried an e-cigarette in 2014, compared to only seven per cent in 2010.

Data from a survey done in England showed a “marked increase in use of e-cigarettes for quitting” from around eight per cent of smokers trying to give up in 2012 to 35 per cent now, overtaking Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) for the first time as the most popular aid for giving up smoking. The report added that “trends in Scotland may well be similar”.

ASH Scotland, however, believed another major factor of the drop in the use of NHS smoking cessation services is a lack of promotion.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of the anti-smoking charity, described the figures as “alarming” because they showed a “real, significant drop” in the number of people setting quit dates through stop smoking services.

“Some years ago the government decided there wasn’t the funding to do mass media TV advertising of the kind that has driven people to use these services and take advantage of their expertise and the free support that is available,” she said. “I believe the lack of mass media advertising on smoking cessation over the last few years has left these vital services largely invisible to the people who need them most.

“We need to look at that again and I am calling for a levy on tobacco company profits to support smokers to quit smoking and to fund mass media advertising of stop smoking services in Scotland.”

Health organisations say smoking costs the NHS at least £2bn a year and a further £10.8bn in wider costs to society, including social-care costs of more than £1bn.

Ms Duffy added: “Scotland’s NHS stop smoking services are expert and effective in helping smokers to quit. These services matter because tobacco is responsible for about a quarter of the recorded adult deaths in Scotland every year.”

The data shows that around seven per cent of the adult smoking population in Scotland made a quit attempt with an NHS smoking cessation service in 2014. In 2013 it was 10per cent.

The proportion of smokers using NHS smoking cessation services in individual NHS boards was highest in East Dunbartonshire (12 per cent) and East Renfrewshire (10.3 per cent) and lowest in the Western Isles (3.5 per cent) and Orkney (3.7 per cent).

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest added a tobacco levy would not work as it would “almost certainly be passed on to consumers forcing some smokers further into poverty”.

He also pointed out that smokers wanting to give up were increasingly using e-cigarettes “which mimic the act of smoking, unlike nicotine patches and other quit smoking aids”.

He added: “You can’t force people to use NHS smoking cessation services so unless the public sector learns from the private sector and embraces products that encourage more smokers to switch from traditional cigarettes, the idea is doomed to fail.”

Giles Roca, director general of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association said: “Tobacco control measures such as a levy would cost the Treasury billions over the next parliament and would simply provide government funding for this group to continue lobbying the government. All this comes on top of a number of tobacco control measures that have not even been implemented, let alone evaluated.

“Aside from the unwarranted intrusion on individual freedoms, this continued drive to over-regulate the UK tobacco market will simply create greater opportunities for organised crime groups involved in smuggling on a massive scale. These proposals are an unprecedented, un-evidenced, dogmatic attack on a legal industry that would have hugely damaging consequences.”

Maureen Watt, minister for public health, said the NHS stop smoking services continue to support “significant numbers of smokers” to give up despite the rise of the e-cigarette.

“Importantly, the largest number of quit attempts have come from our most deprived areas, where smoking rates are highest. This proves that stop smoking services are effective in reaching deprived groups,” she said.

E-cigarettes and smoking to feature in forthcoming Bill – Scotland

Health Bill consultation response

E-cigarettes and smoking to feature in forthcoming Bill

Measures to regulate e-cigarettes and smoking in NHS hospital grounds are to be included in a forthcoming Health Bill.

Responding to a consultation into the proposed legislation, Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, set out plans for the Bill, which will be introduced later this year.

Following the consultation, the Scottish Government proposes to ban the sale of non-medicinal e-cigarettes to under 18s, and to also make it an offence for an adult to buy them for a minor. E-cigarette retailers will be required to be registered on a central register, as tobacco retailers in Scotland currently are.

Smoking in the vicinity of hospital buildings will be made a statutory offence as part of the Health Bill. Currently all NHS boards operate a policy banning smoking on their grounds.

The Bill will also contain measures to introduce a statutory duty of candour for health and social care organisations, placing a duty on them to be open when harm has occurred, to provide support to all involved and training for staff involved with organisational responses after an incident.

There will be separate provisions that will create a criminal offence of wilful neglect/ill-treatment, to protect people from what are very rare cases of deliberate neglect or ill-treatment in the health and social care system.

Maureen Watt said:

“E-cigarettes might have a place when it comes to helping current smokers to quit their habit. This government is not opposed to e-cigarettes, but we think it is right to protect children from nicotine addiction, and to limit the prevalence of smoking behaviours. Through this Bill we will seek to strike that balance.

“We have long thought that it is wrong for people to have to walk through clouds of smoke when visiting hospitals. Following our consultation, and to support NHS boards, we believe the time is right to make it a statutory offence to smoke near health buildings.

“The measures on duty of candour will place a duty on organisations to be open and honest when physical or psychological harm has occurred. It will help to put transparency at the heart of our health and social care systems, recognising the impact of these events on staff and placing the emphasis clearly on learning and improvement, not fear and blame.

“The criminal offence of wilful neglect/ill-treatment will only apply in the rare cases where someone has been intentionally neglected or ill-treated by a health or social care professional. It will ensure that mistreatment of anyone receiving care can be effectively dealt with by the criminal justice system.”

Consultation on Electronic Cigarettes and Strengthening Tobacco Control in Scotland

A Consultation on Electronic Cigarettes and Strengthening Tobacco Control in Scotland: Analysis of Responses

Executive Summary

A public consultation paper, Electronic Cigarettes and Strengthening Tobacco Control in Scotland, was launched on 10 October 2014 and was open for written responses until 2 January 2015. It contained 49 questions on e-cigarettes and on tobacco control policy proposals. By the closing date, 172 written responses had been received: 78 from individual members of the public and 94 responses from organisations. A variety of organisations responded: academic groups, the e-cigarette industry, retailers, pharmacies, the tobacco industry, NHS health boards and partnerships, local authorities and other public bodies.

The paper covered: a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s; a ban on proxy purchase of e-cigarettes for under-18s; introducing a mandatory age verification policy for e-cigarette and tobacco sales; a requirement for retailers to register to sell e-cigarettes; restrictions on the domestic marketing of e-cigarettes; the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces; a ban on smoking in cars when under-18s are present; smoke-free NHS grounds; smoke-free outdoor areas for children and families; a ban on unauthorised sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes by under-18s; equalities impacts of the policy proposals; and business and regulatory impacts of the proposals.

Responses towards the age-related policies which aim to prevent young people from accessing e-cigarettes or tobacco were broadly positive across respondent categories.

However, opinion was more varied on other proposals. A majority supported mandatory registration for the sale of e-cigarettes, but the e-cigarette industry and the pharmacy retail sector objected to tobacco and e-cigarettes being conflated in the context of a joint retailers register, especially if e-cigarette sellers were required to register on the existing Scottish Tobacco Retailers Register.

The idea of restricting the domestic advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes elicited a varied response. A majority favoured restrictions but the e-cigarette sector and the tobacco industry were concerned that this would impede businesses’ ability to grow and compete. Several respondents advocated waiting to see how effective the CAP and BCAP codes prove to be at encouraging responsible marketing before introducing any legislation. The majority of public health stakeholders advocated a comprehensive ban on e-cigarette advertising and promotion, with some advocating no exceptions and others suggesting limited exemptions for forms of marketing aimed only at current smokers. A small majority thought that action should be taken on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces.

In response to questions on smoke-free hospital grounds, a majority favoured national legislation and supported its application to all NHS premises. This included NHS Boards who expressed a preference for legislation to make entire grounds smoke-free. Respondents acknowledged the challenges of implementing smoke-free rules across often large hospital grounds and some exemptions were suggested. A majority agreed with a ban on smoking in cars when someone under-18 is present and that the Scottish Government should take action to support the creation of smoke free outdoor areas for children and families.

Prohibition on Showing Tobacco in Little Shops in Scotland Emerges Into Power

A boycott on tobacco and cigarette showed in little shops in Scotland has come into power.

The latest Scottish Government enactment, which was originally set up for expansive general stores, has now likewise been forced on little stores.

The boycott is aimed for diminishing youngsters’ introduction to cigarettes and tobacco items in shops all over the country.

A legitimate offer to have the boycott upturned by tobacco multinational firm,” Imperial Tobacco”, was brought in the eyes of the Preeminent Court.

The organization contended that the boycott was out with the locale of the Scottish Parliament item security and deals which are held matters. But unfortunately, the lawful case was rejected by judges.

Martine Stead, representative executive at the Establishment for Social Advertising based at the College of Stirling, said: “It’s well established that exposure to tobacco advertising encourages people to take up, and to continue, smoking. “At the point when promoting was banned in the UK in 2003, one of the couple of manifestations of advertising left to the tobacco business was the mass of appealing packs behind the counter in the corner shop.

“The decently supplied, brilliantly lit tobacco gantry has, essentially, been a substantial publicizing hoarding. Behind the counter, at client eye level, clients have seen it each time they purchased a daily paper or a parcel of desserts, strengthening the thought that cigarettes are an ordinary regular buy.”

Hazel Cheeseman, chief of approach at Cinder, said: “The display ban will work hand in hand with standardized packs, which will be introduced in May 2016, to further protect children from glitzy tobacco packaging.”

A representative for the Tobacco Retailers’ Collusion, said: “The presentation of the showcase boycott into bigger shops hasn’t even been assessed, so how would we know it will function in littler shops? Obviously retailers will need to agree to the law yet this is a further superfluous measure that will hit little organizations. “There will be genuine troubles around its application, including longer exchange times, and the expenses of usage, for example, the establishment of new gantries. Going ahead top of plain bundling, it is a pointless weight on shops officially battling with formality.

“There are other more viable methods for preventing youngsters from taking up smoking.”

Scotland’s biggest public sector pension scheme under fire for £83m stake in arms manufacturers

Scotland’s largest local authority pension scheme has been criticised after it emerged it has investments worth £83 million in 11 of the 20 companies with the biggest global involvement in arms manufacture.

Scotland’s largest local authority pension scheme has been criticised after it emerged it has investments worth £83 million in 11 of the 20 companies with the biggest global involvement in arms manufacture.
The Glasgow City Council-administered Strathclyde Pension Fund has had shares worth £19.6 million, as of December last year, in the top two arms-producing and military services companies alone, Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of Trident nuclear weapons, and Boeing.

The pension scheme, one of the biggest in the world with net assets of more than £13.9 billion, pays 70,000 pensioners and has a further 130,000 members either paying into the fund or waiting to retire from 12 local authorities including Glasgow from the former Strathclyde area, plus over 200 other large and small employers.

The value of the Top 20 arms firms investment has risen by £26 million in years to December, 2014 helped in part with the purchase of a new stake in UK-based Rolls Royce now worth £13.1 million.

Other firms being invested in included in the top 20 arms producers in terms of sales as compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, include Safran (£17.2 million), Honeywell (£16.4 million), United Technologies (£7.1 million) and Raytheon (£2.3 million) which has an arms manufacturing plant in Glenrothes.

Lockheed Martin also offers IT services and in 2013 took over a Scottish Government e-procurement contract worth £18.5m.

Pension schemes have previously been under scrutiny for investments in companies dealing in arms and tobacco.

In January, last year, it emerged more than £220 million was tied up in tobacco firms from Scots public sector pensions – including those behind Marlboro, Benson & Hedges and Lucky Strike – despite guidelines that recommend ethical and social factors must be taken into account by Scots councils administering the funds.

Some £55 million was estimated to have been invested in the world’s 10 largest arms sellers who trade in high-explosive shells, rocket launchers, armoured tanks and F-16 fighter jets.

The figures obtained under freedom of information legislation showed only two councils that administer pension schemes, Dumfries and Galloway and Shetland, had no involvement in tobacco or companies selling arms.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said while it employs the staff and its committee tends to be made up of Glasgow-elected members, the SPF has its own committee structure and governance which is responsible for investment strategy. He said the council cannot make decisions for the fund.

He added: “The fund is a signatory to and active participant in the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment – and we have appointed independent monitors to ensure these principles are adhered to by our investment managers.

“We take our social responsibilities seriously and are recognised as a fund that is showing leadership both nationally and internationally in actively engaging with the companies in which we invest to challenge them to address risks and improve performance.”

Independent Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie, who has campaigned against the arms trade, believes change is required across the board.

“If there is any set of rules that says it is acceptable to be investing in these arms companies then we need to look at the rules,” he said. “The public look for moral leadership in the public sector and sadly that is not always obvious.”

Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “Glasgow City Council is meant to be committed to public welfare and the public good, and should not be investing in companies that directly profit from war and conflict around the world.

“The arms trade is a deadly and illegitimate industry and people across Glasgow will be shocked to find that the council is using their money to boost companies that arm dictators and human rights abusers.”

Jenny Graydon, chief executive of Glasgow Association for Mental Health, one of the participants in the pension scheme, called for a review of the investments.

Car smoking ban MSP welcomes backing of Scottish government

The Liberal Democrat MSP behind a bill to ban smoking in cars when children are present has welcomed the support of the Scottish government.

South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume launched the members’ bill in December.

The government said it was “very supportive” of the principles of the bill, but changes could be needed to make it “workable”.

Motorists could potentially be fined £100 for breaching the rule if it becomes law.

Mr Hume lodged draft proposals for a bill last May calling for a ban in Scotland on smoking in private vehicles when children under 18 were present.

He said he was “over the moon” at the news the Scottish government would endorse the Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill.

The bill is about guaranteeing that children in Scotland can have the freedom to go on and lead healthy lives if they choose to.Jim Hume, Liberal Democrat MSP

He said: “With cross-party support and the support of many third sector organisations, there is every chance that this could be in place in the next year.

“Eighty-four per cent of the 160 responses to my consultation were positive and people from across Scotland have expressed their support for the move.

“The bill is about guaranteeing that children in Scotland can have the freedom to go on and lead healthy lives if they choose to.

“I look forward to working with MSPs from all parties as the bill progresses.”

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said the Scottish government had considered including the measure in its Public Health Bill, but instead decided to support Mr Hume’s proposals.

She said: “As with any bill, as it goes through the scrutiny process, there may be amendments and improvements to strengthen the legislation and ensure it is fit for purpose.

“But we believe that the underpinning principles are strong, and that is why I am pleased to support it.”

‘Awareness campaign’

Scottish Labour and a wide range of health organisations have backed his proposals.

It is another public-health initiative that can help Scotland move forward with its ambition to achieve a tobacco-free generation in 20 years’ time.Sheila Duffy, ASH Scotland

But the Scottish Conservatives have reservations about how the bill would work in practice.

The party’s health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “While Scottish Conservatives support any moves which would protect young people from hazardous second hand smoke we have concerns as to how this would be enforced.

“It would be a better use of resources to conduct a public awareness campaign similar to that which is being proposed by the government in Wales.

“We will be watching this campaign in order to ascertain what lessons may be learned and what approaches may be adopted in Scotland.”

“Education has to be better than legislation but the government prefers gesture politics and the big stick.”Simon Clark, Forest

‘Tobacco free’

Anti-smoking campaigners welcomed the Scottish government’s backing for Mr Hume’s bill. ASH Scotland’s chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “It is another public health initiative that can help Scotland move forward with its ambition to achieve a tobacco-free generation in 20 years’ time.

“It is popular with the public and will bring Scotland into line with upcoming legislation in England and Wales. “We believe it can be effectively enforced and that having the legislation focus on cars with children bypasses concerns over interference in people’s private lives. “Jim Hume must be congratulated for taking the initiative on this proposal and for all the hard work he and his team have done to bring this important measure forward.” But Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said the bill was “legislation for legislation’s sake”.

He said: “Smoking in cars carrying children is inconsiderate. The overwhelming majority of smokers know that and don’t do it. “The very small number that do will carry on regardless because the law will be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. “Education has to be better than legislation but the government prefers gesture politics and the big stick.”

Commons votes plain packs with big majority

The House of Commons in a 367-113 bipartisan vote opted to introduce uniform packaging for cigarettes and hand-rolled tobaccos, setting the stage for final parliamentary approval on 16 March, the Guardian reported.

Plain packaging would mandate a standard green/brown colour and limit branding on packs that mostly would display graphic health warnings. Approval in the House of Lords for a bill that currently applies only to England is expected, the newspaper said on its website. Regional authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also are expected to adopt the plain packaging provisions.

Major tobacco companies have said they will contest standardised packaging in the courts, both in the UK and in Ireland, which earlier this week became the second country after Australia to approve plain packs. Two court challenges are pending against the Australian law. The UK version would take effect in May, 2016. In Ireland full implementation is planned one year later.

“This legislation is a case of the UK government taking property from a UK business without paying for it. That is illegal under both UK and European law”, said Jerome Abelman, corporate and regulatory affairs director at British American Tobacco. “Legal action is not something we want to undertake, nor is it something we enter into lightly – but the UK Government has left us with no other choice.”

Don’t fall for the hype. Nicotine is a poison, no matter how it is delivered

Lobbyists and health campaigners are touting e-cigarettes as a safer version of the real thing, but there’s no evidence to prove that they are

It’s rare for pro-smoking lobbyists and health campaigners to stop bickering with one another – let alone agree on something. But this week, the two groups have come out in unison against a new Scottish health policy.

From April, all Scottish health boards (bar one, NHS Lothian) will ban the use of e-cigarettes on NHS premises. The move makes perfect sense, and falls firmly into line with current NHS policies relating to other nicotine-laden items. But smokers’ rights groups have lambasted the ban as “perverse” – and, believe it or not, anti-smoking campaigners at Ash Scotland seem to agree with them.

According to both camps, e-cigs should be considered a vital tool to help smokers cut down and ultimately kick the habit. By banning both cigarettes and e-cigarettes from hospital grounds, they claim, NHS boards are removing a critical incentive for nicotine addicts to switch over to “less harmful” e-cigs. But should we really be encouraging smokers to make that switch?

Lobbyists have been queuing up for a few years now to push the idea that e-cigs are somehow safer than normal cigarettes. One of the most dangerous aspects of your typical, run-of-the-mill cigarette is the tar-filled smoke you’re inhaling with each puff. That tar may contain up to 7,000 different toxins, which are otherwise found in everything from rat poison to nail polish. E-cigs, on the other hand, produce a light, tar-free vapour. But this doesn’t necessarily make them any safer.

E-cigs don’t contain the same type of nicotine you might find in an ordinary tobacco leaf. They contain liquid nicotine, which can be lethal: doctors say a tablespoon of some e-liquids on the market would be enough to kill an adult; half a teaspoon could kill a child. And the worst part is, you don’t even need to ingest these liquids to end up in hospital. Mere skin contact with concentrated liquid nicotine is enough to cause symptoms of poisoning, such as dizziness, elevated blood pressure and seizures.

That should scare even the most devout e-cig user, because the truth is that nobody’s actually regulating the concentration levels of liquids going into each cartridge. This lack of oversight may change next year, thanks to EU legislation that should see the products slapped with a few crucial safety guidelines. But for now, e-cigarette manufacturers preside over a cowboy industry that’s expanding at breakneck speed.

Bearing that in mind, every puff you take on an e-cig is a roll of the dice. After all, how confident can you be that the unbranded cartridges you’ve been purchasing from your local corner shop were filled by a chemist who actually knows what they are doing?

Sixty years ago, we had doctors telling us that one brand of cigarettes was better for your health than another. Today, we’ve got lobbyists telling us virtually the same thing about e-cigarettes. But as research slowly begins to catch up with emerging technology, chances are we’ll soon be scoffing at the health campaigners of today in the same way that we now roll our eyes at the smoking enthusiasts of the 1950s.

As with most new discoveries, we have absolutely no idea what sort of longterm impact e-cigarettes may have on our health. We probably won’t know for decades. So for now we’re just going to have to make educated decisions based on the information we’ve got at hand: namely, that e-cigs are loaded with unregulated contents. And based on this it makes sense to send them packing in the same direction as their tobacco-laden cousins.

E-cigs may or may not be a potential escape route for smokers looking to kick the habit, and that’s great for them. But NHS Scotland is absolutely right in asking e-cig users to take their habit elsewhere.

No matter how you choose to dress it up, nicotine is nicotine, and public health is public health. Let’s not confuse the two.