The Role of E-Cigarettes in Achieving Scotland’s 2034 Smoke-Free Target

In 2017, the Scottish government had announced that it was setting in place a tobacco plan in order to become “smoke-free” by 2034. At the time, the University of Edinburgh and NHS Health Scotland had carried out an inquiry to determine whether efforts to reduce smoking were being effective. This had indicated that while the local tobacco control strategy was working, smoking continued to be a problem amongst low income communities.

“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.”

“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,” said Dr Garth Reid, principal public health adviser at NHS Health Scotland at the time.

Garth added that levels of smoking are still highest in Scotland’s most deprived areas, with 35% of people living in such areas being smokers, when compared to the 10% in more affluent areas. He added that it is clear that further action to reduce inequalities in smoking is necessary.

A round table event focused on THR
Meanwhile, a round table event organized by Holyrood and the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF), focused on the role of vaping products in reducing tobacco harm. Kicking things off, John Lee, the federation’s head of policy and public affairs, said on the topic of vaping in retail.

“We are very concerned that market might be, in some way, inhibited. The Scottish Government has committed itself in this Programme for Government to bringing forward a consultation, which may very well restrict the promotion of marketing of electronic cigarettes and we would not really want that market to be prohibited in any way.”

“We think it’s a consumer market essentially, we think that retailers need to have conversations with customers about these type of products and of course, in the wider context, it may well mean if there were restrictions on these products that the potential health benefits wouldn’t be realised,” added Lee.

Donald Cameron MSP, the Scottish Conservative health spokesman, stressed the importance of implementing a reliable process to determine the potential benefits of e-cigarettes. This must be based on data, science, and research. “We all know there are conflicting accounts,” he told the roundtable.

“Some people say e-cigarettes help reduce smoking, but for every research paper that shows that, there will be another that shows the opposite and I think it is just important to get a handle on the facts, particularly in terms of how it applies in Scotland.”