Scotland aims to become a completely smoke-free country
26th November 2012
Perhaps David Cameron’s coalition government could take the lead from Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party as the latter and his SNP have set themselves the bold target of making Scotland a smoke-free country. Plans were first made almost thirty years ago to make Glasgow a city free of smoke by the start of the new millennium. Unfortunately this never materialised though. However, Scotland would appear to be at the forefront in their attempts to stamp-out smoking and back in 2006, the efforts of the then First Minister Jack McConnell, led Scotland to becoming the first UK country to introduce a smoking ban, forbidding smoking in all enclosed public spaces such as restaurants, nightclubs, bars, shopping centres, etc. In spite of initial doubts about the ban, it has since proved to be an overwhelming success both in Scotland and in England since its introduction here in 2007. Hospital admissions for numerous smoking-induced health conditions such as asthma and heart problems have both been declining in recent years. In addition, it is believed that 10% decrease in premature births across Scotland is also connected to the ban. Since 2006, the Scottish ruling on smoking has not completely had the desired effect sadly. Despite some health benefits being evident, the number of people actually giving up the unhealthy habit for good has not increased as much as the government would have liked. In fact, figures show that there has only been in excess of 2% more people stubbing-out for good. This has resulted in SNP ministers yesterday outlining their plans to publish a timetable at some point in the New Year on their goals and possible new legislation that aims to make the country smoke-free. No date or further detail though has been revealed on specifically how they intend to go about this difficult task. A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The strategy will focus on prevention, protection and cessation and will also include both a review of smoking-cessation services and ambitious targets for reducing smoking across Scotland.” The plans though show at least prove that the Alex Salmond administration is one of the most impressive anti-smoking governments in the world. The only other countries who also share Scotland’s belief that smoking is a serious issue are New Zealand and Finland who have set smoke-free target date of 2025 and 2040 respectively. New Zealand’s government also recently announced a whopping 40% increase in tobacco taxes, due to be implemented in the next four years. You may be wondering though what constitutes a country actually becoming ‘smoke-free’. Well, the generally accepted definition is when less than 5% of the population are smoking. Estimates say that the percentage of adults in Scotland smoking has decreased from 25.7% 2006 to 23.3% in 2011. Although the number is moving in the right direction, the SNP clearly have their work cut-out to reach their target which could easily take decades judging from comments from John Watson, director of policy at anti-tobacco charity Ash Scotland. He said: “For somebody born next year, let's try and achieve the target by the time they reach 18 or 21, so we are looking ahead to the next generation living their lives free from tobacco.” Professor Gerard Hastings, of Stirling University’s Centre for Tobacco Control Research, suggested how the aim could be realised, urging ministers to limit the ‘distribution networks’ for tobacco.  Professor Hastings highlighted the supermarket giant Sainsbury’s who recently stopped the sale of tobacco from sale at six of its supermarkets. This came after the Scottish Government’s health levy on business rates paid by large stores who sell cigarettes and alcohol. At Medical Specialists Pharmacy we applaud the efforts of the Scottish Government to encourage a nationwide curbing of smoking. Millions of lives will be saved, hospital admissions will drop drastically, secondhand smoking will decrease in addition to asthma rates and cardiovascular diseases, and money will be saved for consumers as cigarette prices go up as well as millions of pounds will be saved by NHS Scotland; vital as budgets become tighter. We are pleased to be able to offer smoking cessation medication to all new and existing patients. Champix is a prescription medication that can be obtained following an online consultation with one of our GMC registered doctors. The medication equates to just £75.00 per pack, a small price when it comes to your long-term health. Champix mimics the effect of nicotine on the body, reducing the urge to smoke and relieving withdrawal symptoms. It can also decrease the enjoyment you experience of smoking if you are still smoking whilst on the treatment.