Due to concerns of an increase in the number of people taking up vaping as a 'lifestyle choice' rather than to quit smoking, Scottish government officials are proposing more stringent measures for vape adverts.
“The government highlighted that the concern is particularly related to a rise in vaping among non-smoking teenagers. The proposed measures include restrictions in advertising through leaflets and flyers, in-store media and free or cut-price samples. The government consultation closed at the end of last month and so far no date has been given as to when the resulting outcome will be published.
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.
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.
The role of e-cigarettes in reducing smoking rates
Meanwhile in a roundtable discussion to debate the concept of tobacco harm reduction (THR) held in 2021, experts discussed the role of e-cigarettes in Scotland achieving the tobacco-free deadline set by the local government for 2034.
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.”