Over the last 50 years, smoking has come to be recognised as uniquely dangerous and highly addictive, killing half of long term smokers before their time. In spite of that, smoking still remains one of the principal preventable causes of illness and premature death in Scotland.
Significant progress has been made, of course, in recent years to shift cultural attitudes to smoking including through firm legislative action such as the introduction of the smoking ban on 26 March 2006 and the rise in the age of sale for tobacco from 16 to 18 on 1 October 2007. While resultant declines in population smoking in recent years are welcome, the Scottish Government is determined to continue firm action to reduce smoking levels even further and is committing £42m over the next three years to achieve this.
We will continue to help smokers to quit but recognise that, if smoking is to become a thing of the past, we need to shift the focus towards preventing children and young people starting to smoke in the first place.
This action plan sets out an ambitious programme of measures designed specifically to dissuade children and young people from smoking. It builds upon and responds to the excellent report, " Towards a Future without Tobacco", from an Expert Group, which considered a wide range of evidence from national and international research. The consultations undertaken on the Expert Group's recommendations also provide a clear mandate for the action proposed.
By preventing smoking uptake in this and future generations, this Action Plan takes us further along the road to a non-smoking Scotland and towards achieving our goal of improving Scottish public health.
Shona Robison, MSP Minister for Public Health