Dramatic fall in second-hand smoke exposure

Children’s exposure in the home down to 6%.

A Scottish Government target to reduce the proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke has been met five years early.

Figures in the Scottish Health Survey, published today, show the proportion of children exposed to smoke in the home has reduced from 11% in 2014 to 6% in 2015. This matches the target of the Take it Right Outside campaign, launched by the Scottish Government in 2014 which aimed to reduce the rate to 6% by 2020.

Harmful chemicals in second-hand smoke can linger and travel for up to five hours, and children’s smaller lungs make them more susceptible to the effects. It is estimated that a reduction to 6% exposure from the 12% level in 2012 could save around 50,000 children from second-hand smoke.

The Scottish Health Survey is commissioned by the Scottish Government to give reliable information on health and related factors.

Other key findings include:

  • The proportion of healthy weight boys has risen for the fourth year running to 73% - the highest level since reporting of data began in 1998. For girls the level has risen to 70%
  • Twenty one per cent of adults smoke, down from 22% in 2014
  • Adults eat on average 3.1 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, with 21% meeting 5-a-day guidelines
  • Just under two thirds (63%) of adults, and just under three-quarters (73%) of children, met the physical activity guidelines
  • There was an increase in the levels of reported anxiety in adults, and an increase in the number of young adults reporting mental health problems
  • The proportion of adults drinking over 14 units of alcohol a week is 26%. This is the new low-risk drinking guideline for both men and women

Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport, said:

“It’s tremendous news that we’ve seen such a dramatic reduction in the number of children exposed to second-hand smoke in the home – meeting our target five years ahead of time. We launched our Take it Right Outside campaign because we know how harmful these chemicals can be for children’s lungs.

“I’d like to thank the many people who have clearly taken the message on board and are now taking their smoking right outside. We now need to see further reductions so that even fewer children are exposed.

“Elsewhere in the Health Survey I’m pleased to see increases in the proportion of children at healthy weight. Also it is encouraging to see a continued decrease in the smoking rate.

“However I recognise we have much more work to do to improve Scotland’s public health. Many of these indicators are static, or not improving as quickly as we want. This government is committed to bringing forward new strategies for obesity, mental health, oral health and alcohol. We also remain committed to introducing minimum unit pricing to tackle the damage which high strength low cost alcohol causes in our communities.”


Scottish Health Survey can be read here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/09/4029


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