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Politicians want Scotland 'tobacco free' by 2034

Posted in Personal Health 28 Mar, 2013

Following proposals to introduce plain packaged cigarettes in the UK, Scottish ministers have launched a campaign aimed at reducing the amount of its population that choose to smoke to less than 5% by 2034, paving the way for a virtually tobacco free generation.

Scottish public health minister, Mr Matheson, said that the campaign would be an ‘achievement we could all be proud of’ and, if successful, would bring all sorts of ‘health, social and economic benefits.’

Scotland isn’t the only country to set a tobacco free target. In fact, Scotland was the third nation to do so, after New Zealand (by 2025) and Finland (by 2040). As different countries follow suit and deploy their own strategies, we will establish the most effective anti-smoking techniques and will eventually be able to properly tackle the smoking problem.

The question is whether we can completely stamp out smoking considering its positive representation in the media and its function as a remedy for industrial living.

Nevertheless, strategies like the one outlined by Scotland can only be a positive step towards a smoke-free society. The key guidelines of the scheme include:

  • A pledge to prohibit smoking in hospital grounds by 2015
  • Supporting the proposals for plain or ‘standardised’ cigarette packaging
  • Significant investment in educational ‘anti-smoking’ programmes for young people
  • Running a marketing campaign on the hazards of second-hand smoke
  • Setting a target for cutting down the amount of second hand smoke exposed to young children
  • Self service vending machines will be banned

Scotland always seem to lead the way in terms of anti-smoking measures having been the first country in the UK to initiate a public smoking ban in 2006. Of course, there is a reason for this. Smoking causes as many as 13,000 deaths in Scotland every year and has been cited as the chief cause of premature death. According to NHS records in Scotland, treatment methods and smoking-related technology costs them approximately 271million each year.

Anti-smoking groups and NHS representatives have understandably welcomed the news of a 'cutting-edge' strategy from the government. Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH Scotland, added:

“The tobacco-free generation is a vision well worth striving for - that a child born now in any part of Scotland will reach adulthood breathing clean air, being free from tobacco addiction, and living in a community where to smoke is unusual.”

A good point well made in my eyes, but at the moment this is the stuff only dreams are made of. The process will inevitably be gradual hence the somewhat distant forecast of 2034, but at least ministers are now prioritising the problem instead of sweeping it under the carpet. Previous measures have been proven to be very effective which is reflected in certain statistics. Rates of smoking have fallen from 32% in 1999 to 23.3 % in 2011, although remaining as high as 40 % in the most deprived areas.

Lets hope that the new measures can create the same kind of figures in years to come.

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