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Last month, the Scottish Government published a new tobacco control action plan which will formally ban smoking around hospital buildings, jails, school grounds and also in designated residential buildings or spaces.

Scotland’s Ministers are aiming to reduce the local smoking rate from the current 17.1% of the population to 5% by 2034, as part of the ongoing Smoke-Free Scotland campaign.
Ministers are aiming to reduce the local smoking rate from the current 17.1% of the population to 5% by 2034, as part of the ongoing Smoke-Free Scotland campaign. When implemented, the new laws will make it illegal to smoke within 15 metres of the designated no-smoking spaces.

“This idea could be extended to consulting on and exploring with agencies whether new applicants for social housing or relocation could be offered a choice of accommodation in smoke-free housing units – i.e. blocks or tenements in which there was no smoking allowed anywhere, reflecting residents’ choices,” says the report.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell thinks that the government has “made good progress” on the tobacco-free goal set five years ago. “The action plan I’m publishing today demonstrates our commitment to the new public health priorities which include an ambition for a Scotland free from the harms caused by alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. All of these together can create a healthier Scotland,” she said.

E-cigarettes should be given to smokers by knowledgable professionals

However the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) has some reservations. It points out that the document pledges “to develop guidance for health professionals and other relevant service providers so that they can offer basic advice on e-cigarette use as part of their support for smokers who choose to make quit attempts using e-cigarettes”.

Whilst welcoming the fact that the devices are referred to as smoking cessation tools, it argues that health professionals may not the best source of guidance on vaping products and that consumers should be consulted way more than they presently are.

“For whatever reason, if the Scottish government truly wishes to reach a smoke-free future, they should be utilising the skills and knowledge of vaping consumers instead of placing faith in organisations who have scant understanding of the products.” Andy Morrison, NNA

“We have found that some stop smoking services are either unwilling or unable to support smokers who express an interest in e-cigarettes other than to nudge them down the path of licensed pharmaceutical products. For whatever reason, if the Scottish government truly wishes to reach a smoke-free future, they should be utilising the skills and knowledge of vaping consumers instead of placing faith in organisations who have scant understanding of the products.” explained the NNA.

The difference between smoking and vaping should be distinct

The organization is also concerned about the TCP’s stated intention to review current e-cig advertising regulations. “Currently, e-cigarette manufacturers can advertise their products domestically where the same is not permitted for combustible products. This is a powerful incentive for smokers to switch to safer alternatives which the Scottish government, inexplicably, seems to want to eradicate,” argued the NNA.

“Currently, e-cigarette manufacturers can advertise their products domestically where the same is not permitted for combustible products. This is a powerful incentive for smokers to switch to safer alternatives which the Scottish government, inexplicably, seems to want to eradicate.”Andy Morrison, NNA

The NNA article pointed out that the tobacco plan pledges to “work with health boards and integration boards to try to reach a consensus on whether vaping should or should not be allowed on hospital grounds through a consistent, national approach”. The organization pointed out that this should not be debatable, as a distinct difference needs to be made between vaping and smoking.

To express the above and other concerns, the author of the article and NNA lead in Scotland Andy Morrison will be writing to Minister Aileen Campbell. Morrison concluded by pointing out that the NNA will be responding to any consultations and objecting to any further restrictions that may be suggested  “on products which have driven an unprecedented decline in smoking prevalence not just in Scotland, but the UK and also most of the western world.”

Read Further: NNA

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