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Labour HEALTH spokesman Anas Sarwar under fire as family firm promotes benefits of smokers to clients

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Number of children exposed to second-hand smoke halved

The Scottish Government published its national tobacco strategy in 2013.

The proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke at home has almost halved in the last five years.

An NHS Scotland and Edinburgh University review of the Scottish Government’s tobacco control strategy also found a “downward trend in smoking prevalence”.

It also warned smoking continues to be a bigger problem in more deprived areas.

The Scottish Government’s national tobacco strategy, Creating a Tobacco Free Generation, was published in 2013.

The review found the strategy had a positive impact, with smoking rates among adults now at 20% compared to 31% in 2003.

The proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke at home fell from 11% to 6% between 2014 and 2015.

Smoking rates in the most deprived areas were found to be at 35%, compared to 10% in the most affluent areas.

Dr Garth Reid, principal public health adviser at NHS Health Scotland said: “The evidence shows the positive impact of tobacco policy, ranging from the display ban which put tobacco out of sight in small shops and supermarkets to the introduction on smoke free NHS grounds.

“Yet, levels of smoking are still highest in Scotland’s most deprived areas, with 35% of people living in the most deprived areas smoking compared to ten percent in the most affluent areas.

“It is clear that further action to reduce inequalities in smoking is necessary if the aim of making Scotland tobacco-free by 2034 is to be achieved.”

Dr John McAteer, senior research fellow at Edinburgh University, said: “One of the aims of the 2013 tobacco control strategy was to reduce second hand smoke exposure among children by 2020.

“The most recent Scottish Health Survey shows that second hand smoke exposure fell from 11% to 6% between 2014 and 2015.

“This equates to 50,000 children having been protected from the harms of daily second-hand smoke exposure at home.

“Scotland has some of the most progressive tobacco control policies in the world, and Scottish smoking rates have fallen from 31% in 2003 to 21% in 2015.”

Scottish anti-smoking strategy shows ‘positive impact’

The Scottish government’s efforts to reduce smoking in Scotland are working, according to a new report.

The review, conducted by the University of Edinburgh and NHS Health Scotland, said the tobacco control strategy had shown a “positive impact” over the past five years.

However, the report’s authors cautioned that smoking continued to be a bigger problem in more deprived areas.

The aim is to have a “smoke-free generation” in Scotland by 2034.

The report concluded progress had been made across all three areas of tobacco policy: prevention, protecting people from second-hand smoke and helping people stop smoking.

Reviewing the strategy, the authors highlighted that:

  • Tobacco products in supermarkets and shops had been moved out of sight
  • Number of children exposed to second-hand smoke in home was cut from 11% to 6%
  • Smoke-free NHS grounds policies have been introduced

The review also said there had been a reduction in cigarette brand awareness in young people, which was attributed to products being moved from view.

Dr Garth Reid, principal public health adviser at NHS Health Scotland, said: “The evidence shows the positive impact of tobacco policy, ranging from the display ban which put tobacco out of sight in small shops and supermarkets to the introduction on smoke free NHS grounds.

“Yet, levels of smoking are still highest in Scotland’s most deprived areas, with 35% of people living in the most deprived areas smoking compared to 10% in the most affluent areas.

“It is clear that further action to reduce inequalities in smoking is necessary if the aim of making Scotland tobacco-free by 2034 is to be achieved.”

When the strategy was published in 2013, the number of adults smoking in Scotland was already falling, but NHS Health Scotland said it was still the single most preventable cause of ill health and premature death in the country.

There are more than 13,000 deaths – a quarter of all deaths – and 56,000 hospital admissions related to smoking every year, according to the body.

Dr John McAteer, senior research fellow at the University of Edinburgh said: “One of the aims of the 2013 tobacco control strategy was to reduce second-hand smoke exposure among children by 2020.

“The most recent Scottish Health Survey shows that second-hand smoke exposure fell from 11% to 6% between 2014 and 2015. This equates to 50,000 children having been protected from the harms of daily second-hand smoke exposure at home.

“Scotland has some of the most progressive tobacco control policies in the world, and Scottish smoking rates have fallen from 31% in 2003 to 21% in 2015.”


Scotland is set to ban smoking in its prisons as part of a government drive to slash tobacco use—but an expert has warned it could mean a boom in smuggling, and a greater risk of violence.

Staff, visitors and contractors are already not allowed to smoke anywhere on Scottish Prison Service (SPS) property. But a 2015 survey found that 72 percent of prisoners smoked, more than three times the proportion of the general population who did so, the BBC reported.

The Scottish government aims at creating a “tobacco-free generation” by 2034. Smoking in enclosed public spaces has been barred since 2006, but prisons have remained an exception.

It aims to end smoking in its prisons by the end of 2018, citing the need to tackle the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Phil Fairlie, chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association Scotland, welcomes the news. “Our members have claimed and argued all along, since the smoking ban was introduced, that they are constantly exposed to very high levels of smoking inside prisons,” he told the BBC.

But stopping smoking in prisons is not without risks and problems.

Alex Cavendish, a former prisoner turned prison expert, tells Newsweek that the demand for contraband tobacco in smoke-free prisoners could lead to a vast black market.

In one prison in Dartmoor, England, which has tested a smoke-free environment, a pack of rolling tobacco could cost as much as £100, Cavendish said. The “huge price differential” between such rates inside the jail compared to shops outside where tobacco was relatively cheap and legal leads to “a temptation to corruption.” A prison officer from the Dartmoor jail was convicted of smuggling tobacco in May this year.

Such markets create new administrative pressures on staff as they become embroiled in a “cat-and-mouse game of trying to stop people doing what is lawful to do on the outside,” Cavendish said.

Black markets also can breed violence when prisoners are punished for not keeping up with debts. Cavendish added: “Prison is a very unforgiving place when it comes to nonpayment of debt.”

Colin McConnell, chief executive of the SPS, said: “This will be a significant challenge. The percentage of people who smoke in prisons is much higher than the community at large,” STV reported.

“I fully understand how difficult it will be for many in our care to give up smoking—that is why we are committed to working alongside our partners in the NHS to provide every support possible to assist them.”

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said, “Smoking remains the biggest single cause of preventable ill-health and premature death in Scotland.

“We have taken wide-ranging action to address this, from our campaigns to take smoking right outside, to measures on tobacco advertising and packaging.

“I endorse this important step by SPS, which will contribute towards our ambition of creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034.”

Fewer Scots are choosing to smoke – but the costs of the habit remain high

National No Smoking Day passed last week with the now routine announcements from health chiefs welcoming the fact that fewer adults are choosing to light up.

But the costs of the habit remain high and ensure that neither the Westminster or Holyrood governments will be declaring victory in their battle to stub it out.

Smoking remains the primary ­preventable cause of ill-health, disability and premature death in Scotland.

Each year tobacco use is associated with around 128,000 hospital admissions and more than 10,000 smoking-attributable deaths north of the border.

The average smoker in Scotland spends £1,500 each year on tobacco – and significantly more people in our poorest communities spend at this level compared to our most affluent.

Prevalence rates in Scotland have fallen from around 28 per cent in 2003 to just under 21 per cent in 2015. Among 13-year-olds and 15-year-olds, smoking rates have fallen steadily to their lowest ever levels – two per cent and seven per cent respectively.

“We’ve had ten years of decisive action which has undoubtedly improved our nation’s health – but there is still more to be done,” said public health minister Aileen Campbell. “As a result of our Take it Right Outside campaigns, reported exposure to second-hand smoke in the home among children under 16 has halved between 2013 and 2015 from over 11 per cent to six per cent.

“In December 2016 it became ­illegal to smoke in cars where children are present – and later this year, we will restrict the sale and availability of e-cigarettes to under-18s and introduce an offence for smoking near hospital buildings.

“We believe that by working together, and with the public’s ­support, we can achieve our goal of creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034.”

Data published this month by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 17.2 per cent of adults across the UK smoked in 2015 – the lowest level since records began in 1974.

Figures from 2015 also showed the highest level of so-called quitters in more than four decades.

Standardised Packaging and Tobacco Products Directive

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Scotland to launch first safety trial of e-cigarettes and pregnant women

SCOTLAND is to carry out the world’s first study examining the safety of e-cigarettes for pregnant woman and their unborn babies.

The study comes amid growing controversy over e-cigarettes. Last week it was reported that they are as bad for your heart as smoking after research found a similar effect to conventional smoking on the stiffness of the main blood vessel in the body.

Several hundred women will be recruited for a major trial next year which will investigate whether ‘vaping’ can help women who struggle to quit smoking while pregnant, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

Researchers from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, a network of 13 universities, will also track the progress of their babies until the age of two to assess if there are any potential harmful effects.

But critics said it was already known arterial stiffness is caused by nicotine – which can also be caused in other ways such as drinking coffee.

In the UK prominent medical bodies – including the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), the British Lung Foundation and Cancer Research UK – say all current evidence suggests e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking.

A recent report published by the RCP said the risk to health from vaping was unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.

Yet in other countries, including Brazil, Singapore and Austria, the sale of e-cigarettes is completely banned, while many others have restrictions in place.

The use of e-cigarettes before 2010 was rare, but now it is estimated around two million in the UK are ‘vaping’.

Linda Bauld, professor of health policy at the University of Stirling and deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said perceptions of risk of e-cigarettes had changed in the past five years, with many now believing they were as harmful as smoking. She said this was “not great” for public health experts who believe they could be helpful in trying to tackle the harm caused by tobacco.

“We are primarily interested in adult smokers who struggle to stop – that includes groups like prisoners, people with mental health problems and pregnant women,” she said. “We haven’t made much inroads into reducing smoking rates in these groups, so for these groups e-cigarettes offer real promise.”

Bauld said the first trial in the world to assess the use of e-cigarettes in pregnant women would begin early next year, with one of the sites in Scotland.

She said it was possible as in the UK nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is routinely given to pregnant women who are struggling to stop smoking, unlike in many countries where it is only prescribed by a doctor.

“We will be recruiting several hundred pregnant smokers and randomising them to use NRT and behavioural support, or an e-cigarette and behavioural support and then we will see how they get on,” she said.

“We will look at ‘does it help them stop smoking, do they like it and is it safe’?”

According to the latest statistics just over 9,900 pregnant women in Scotland are smokers at their first health visit – ranging from nearly 30% from the most deprived areas to just 4.5% from the least deprived.

New guidance for midwives states only NRT products should be recommended, but a woman should not be discouraged from using e-cigarettes if it helps her to quit smoking.

Janet Fyle, policy adviser with the Royal College of Midwives, said any research into the issue would be welcome. “We have to say the jury is still out on e-cigarettes. We do not know what the harm is if any, so we have to be cautious and say to (pregnant) women this is the perfect opportunity to give up smoking, improve your health and stay smoke-free,” she said.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of anti-tobacco charity ASH Scotland, said all evidence so far suggested that tobacco is much more harmful than e-cigarettes, but cautioned that e-cigarettes were “not harmless”.

She added: “There are still many unknowns, partly because there is such a wide range of different products and liquids, and partly because the research is still ongoing. We are now starting to see some interesting findings, but while we have a really good body of evidence on the vast harmfulness of cigarettes and tobacco, we don’t yet have a complete evidence base on the long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes.”

She raised concerns over multinational tobacco companies buying up e-cigarette brands. “If e-cigarettes can get smokers off tobacco, then I welcome them as harm reduction,” she said. “But if they are used by tobacco companies as a way of reaching out and getting their messages to young people, that could be a real danger.”

Sarah Jakes, of the New Nicotine Alliance UK, a charity set up to promote nicotine products for reducing cigarette smoking, said the debate over vaping safety was a result of a “war of ideologies” between those who favour a ‘quit or die’ approach versus those who took a pragmatic view.

She said: “In my view, the former group constantly manipulate and overblow potential harms in order to undermine the arguments of the harm reduction proponents.”

Highland Council accused of bankrolling killer industry over stake in tobacco trade

A COUNCIL has been accused of bankrolling an industry that kills more than 10,000 Scots every year after its pension fund upped its investments in the tobacco trade.

Highland Council, which promotes healthy living, has been accused of being hypocritical after making multi-million-pound investments in the tobacco industry.

The value of the pension fund’s investment in one of the world’s biggest tobacco funds increased last year.

The fund’s stake in British American Tobacco — producers of the Dunhill, Lucky Strike and Benson & Hedges brands — increased from £12.6 million to £15.15 million last year.

John Finnie, list MSP for Highlands and Islands for the Greens and a former Highland councillor, said:

“The scheme manages £1.5 billion that could provide a secure future for employees while investing in work that benefits society. Instead, it bankrolls an industry that kills over 10,000 Scots every year.”

Council leader Margaret Davidson said the pension fund has a legal obligation to best serve its beneficiaries.

Councillor David Alston, who chairs the council’s health board, said the legal requirements of the pension fund should be changed.

Sheila Duffy: Continuing to make smoking a thing of the past

MSPs can help to change lives across the country says Sheila Duffy

The fifth session of the Scottish Parliament has begun. Once they have settled in to their new offices, found out who’s got which job and recruited their office staff, the new MSPs will have to consider what issues to focus on over the next five years.

I would guess that Scotland’s health, and health inequality, will be at the top of many lists. If someone were able to offer these MSPs a popular, cost-effective means of greatly improving health, saving the NHS money, supporting businesses and putting significant funds into the pockets of our poorest communities, you imagine they would jump at the chance.

I’m hoping that they do, because I have exactly such a proposal for them.

Robust action on tobacco from successive Scottish administrations has helped sustain a steady decline in the smoking rate. Yet the latest Scottish Household Survey still indicates an adult smoking rate of 20 per cent in 2014. That translates into nearly 900,000 people in Scotland who have significantly increased risks of cancer, heart disease, dementia, stroke and diabetes.

Smoking remains far and away our largest preventable cause of ill health and death, so that around 300,000 people in Scotland will currently be living with serious illness due to tobacco use. They each spend an average of £125 a month on tobacco and smoking costs push an extra 32,000 Scottish households over the poverty line, while deepening the poverty experienced by many others.

Crucially, surveys year after year show that most people in Scotland who smoke say that they want to stop. The harm caused by tobacco arises from engrained habit and addiction rather than from lifestyle choice.

The Scottish Government has set a target of a “tobacco-free generation” by 2034. This is defined as a 5 per cent smoking rate by 2034 – which ASH Scotland articulates as achieving a situation where cigarettes are out of sight, out of mind and out of fashion and the only people who smoke are the small number of informed adults who
actively choose to do so.

The national tobacco strategy sets an intermediate target of a 12 per cent smoking rate by 2021, the lifetime of this Parliament. If this goal can be achieved then, over time and compared with the latest survey figures 350,000 people in Scotland will benefit from the single, largest gain which anyone who smokes can achieve for their health

Reduced smoking-related admissions would lead to annual savings of between £100 million and £170m from NHS budgets, to be spent on other priorities. Scotland’s economy will benefit, with employers hit by 1 million fewer sick days each year

The poorest fifth of communities will gain an extra £100m of disposable income every year

All of these gains would result from meeting an existing Scottish Government commitment. To ensure that these gains are successfully delivered we need robust political action, of the sort which has helped achieved the reduced smoking rates to date.

In this session of the Parliament we need to see clear recognition that tobacco use is part of the problems faced by people with mental health issues, and a commitment that stop smoking support should be offered as part of the care provided. We need robust, well-resourced action from police, trading standards and others to keep tobacco out of the hands of our children and illicit tobacco out of our communities. We need to ensure financial support services, from money advice to food banks, understand that smoking is not a lifestyle choice but a further burden on the already disadvantaged and that stop smoking support is one element of the road to financial stability.

Recently Scotland celebrated ten years of smoke-free enclosed public spaces, a move that seemed risky at the time yet which has been uniquely successful and smoothly implemented and remains one of the Scottish Parliament’s most popular actions. As of last month all tobacco manufactured for use in the UK must come in plain, standardised packaging. Soon packets without brand imagery will present consumers with a more honest presentation of the product.

There is a long way to go on Scotland’s journey towards being tobacco-free in 2034. But the evidence is clear that a tobacco-free generation will not just be healthier, but wealthier and fairer too. Our successes to date, achieved against huge opposition from vested commercial interests, should inspire us that we can get there.

• Sheila Duffy, chief executive, ASH Scotland

Scotland Votes Regulation for E-cigarettes

Recent years have brought a rapid rise in popularity to e-cigarettes, so much so that researchers and regulators haven’t had the time to decide on their benefits and health side effects.

Consequently, e-cigs are now the subject of heated debate: do they indeed provide helpful a cessation treatment for smokers? Or do they actually make smoking more attractive to young people?

At the same time, some group advocates claim that e-cigarettes are Big Tobacco’s way of protecting its profits in markets, seeing that smoking is declining in some markets.

While their benefits continue to be debated, and the potential risks to non-smokers remain under-explored, politicians across the world and regulators must still decide what to do.

Scotland is among the latest countries confronted with this question, where parliament has just banned people under 18 years old from using e-cigarettes. This decision – which imposes the same age limit as for traditional cigarettes – brings Scotland into line with England and Wales.

Countries across the globe take different approaches to vaping – the broadly used term for using e-cigarettes. In Canada, sales have technically been made illegal, although regulation is still largely unenforced.

In the US, regulation is mixed, but San Francisco has just raised the minimum buying age to 21 years. Across Europe, countries like Ireland, Poland, and Bulgaria have yet to regulate sales and advertising, while Wales takes a more restrictive approach, looking to introduce a ban on e-cigarettes in public places.

But which approach is the most sensible? While voting on the new Scottish Health Bill, opponents of e-cigarette regulations argued that vaping is significantly less harmful than traditional cigarettes and help smokers to quit.

According to this group, restrictions will only prevent smokers from trying safer alternatives, and reduce the chances of lowering tobacco consumption.

On the other side of the debate, supporters of regulation say claim that children and young people need to be protected from developing a nicotine addiction.

They advocate a precautionary approach until researchers offer evidence that e-cigarettes do not undermine the country’s recent successes at curbing smoking.

More than just banning sales of e-cigs to under-18s, the new Scottish laws requires retailers to ask customers who look under 25 to offer proof of age. They also ban selling e-cigarettes from vending machines, make it illegal to buy on behalf of someone under 18.

Even though there might be some years before we have any clear evidence about the risks of e-cigarettes, the Scottish Parliament can, at least, say it has done what the country wants. Back in 2014, a large majority of respondents supported the regulation.