"We will help people to sustain and improve health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local access to health care"the Scottish Government's strategic objective for a Healthier Scotland:
1.1 A generation after the health risks associated with smoking were demonstrated beyond dispute, smoking remains one of the principal causes of illness and premature death in Scotland. It is estimated to be responsible for some 13,000 deaths each year and many more hospital admissions. Tackling smoking related harm thus lies at the heart of the Scottish Government's health improvement and health inequalities drive.
1.2 Significant progress has been made since Scottish Devolution through the comprehensive programmes of action set out in the UK White Paper "Smoking Kills" 1 (1998) and the first ever action plan on tobacco designed specifically for Scotland "A Breath of Fresh Air for Scotland"2 (2004). A record level of investment in tobacco control activity has resulted in the creation of a national network of cessation services helping thousands of people to stop smoking. Major inroads have also been made in shifting cultural attitudes to smoking through effective multi-media communications campaigns and firm legislative action, including the introduction in March 2006 of historic smoke-free legislation and an increase in the age of sale for tobacco from 16 to 18 on 1 October 2007.
1.3 Nevertheless, if smoking is to truly become a thing of the past, there is still much to be done, particularly to stop young people from starting to smoke in the first place. In order to advise the Scottish Government on how this should be done, a short-life expert group, the Smoking Prevention Working Group ( SPWG), was set up as a sub-group of the Scottish Ministerial Working Group on Tobacco Control. It was asked to make recommendations for the development of a new long term smoking strategy for Scotland to guide future smoking prevention activity at national and local levels. Details of the SPWG's membership and remit are at Appendix 1.
1.4 The proposals in "A Breath of Fresh Air for Scotland", included reviewing available evidence on factors influencing smoking behaviour, including national and local communication and education programmes. SPWG was also asked to advise the Scottish Government on the question of evidence to support raising the age of sale of tobacco products from the age of 16 to 18.
1.5 The SPWG's report "Towards a future without tobacco"3 was published on 22 November 2006. The report, which made 31 separate recommendations (see Appendix 2) to protect or dissuade young people from starting to smoke and deter adults from encouraging and enabling them to smoke, was subject to public consultation between 7 December 2006 and 28 February 2007. Parallel consultations also took place on draft legislation to implement the recommendation to raise the age of sale from 16 to 18, as part of a range of smoking prevention measures, to contribute to a reduction in consumption by young people, by reinforcing the message to the population in general and young people in particular that tobacco is a highly dangerous substance which should be avoided at all costs.
1.6 The evidence presented and the recommendations contained in "Towards a future without tobacco" provide the platform for this action plan. We would like to thank members of the SPWG, particularly the Chair, Dr Laurence Gruer, for such a thorough investigation of the issues and, importantly, for providing a strong evidence base for action.
1.7 We are grateful also to everyone who took part in the consultation process. The views expressed in the 64 written responses which were received; at the regional seminars held in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow; and by young people through focus groups, a Young Scot survey and a meeting with representatives from the Scottish Youth Parliament, have also been taken into account. Copies of individual consultation responses, can be found on http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/Recent/Q/MonthPicker/04/YearPicker/2007/Subject/-1/SortBy/0/Page/2http://www.youngscot.org/surveys/?id=348&a=d&sr=242
1.8 Crucially, while individuals and organisations might take issue with particular recommendations made by the SPWG, the consultation results were overwhelmingly positive and give the Scottish Government a strong mandate for the development of a longer term strategic approach to smoking prevention activity in Scotland.
1.9 This document confirms the Scottish Government's commitment to reducing the affordability, attractiveness and availability of tobacco products to children and young people. It sets out the direction we will take in the form of a comprehensive action plan aimed at addressing each of these issues. As part of the wider national programme of tobacco control action set out in " A Breath of Fresh Air for Scotland" the actions identified here represent another significant step along the road to a non-smoking Scotland.
1.10 This aspiration for a non-smoking Scotland is in harmony with our desire, set out in The Government Economic Strategy4 to create a more successful country with opportunities for all to flourish and with the national outcomes that flow from that. Specifically this smoking prevention action plan forms a part of the programme of comprehensive and targeted action to accelerate progress on health improvement, tackling health inequalities, and improving the quality of health care set out in the Scottish Government's health action plan, "Better Health, Better Care"5. Importantly, the action outlined here will complement the work of the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities and other key initiatives and policies, such as "Delivering a Healthy Future - An Action Framework for Children and Young People's Health in Scotland"6 which are underway to improve the health, wellbeing and life circumstances of the people of Scotland. It has also been subject to an Equality Impact Assessment details of which can be found on http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Equality/18507/EQIASearch
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