Scotland's Future is Smoke Free: A Smoking Prevention Action Plan

A smoking prevention Action Plan


"Let's be clear: there is no such thing as a 'safe' cigarette."
Philip Morris, International tobacco company

Current activity

4.1 It has long been recognised that the marketing and promotion of tobacco products has done much to counter public health messages. Moreover, there is strong evidence linking the prohibition of tobacco advertising with a decrease in smoking levels. The SPWG report assesses the efforts made to date in order to reduce the impact of such activity:

  • Tobacco advertising and promotion was banned in the UK and across the EU in 2002 and tobacco sponsorship which substantially came to an end in 2005. As a result tobacco advertising in the press and on billboards; the promotion of tobacco products through brand-sharing, free gifts, coupons and mail shots; and the sponsorship of sporting and other events is banned, and internet advertising restricted.
  • In 2003, larger, hard-hitting health warnings on tobacco packs were introduced in the UK and misleading terms such as low-tar, mild and light were also banned. This was followed in August 2007 by legislation requiring picture warnings to appear on cigarette packs from the end of 2008, and on other tobacco products by the end of 2009.

Future direction

4.2 The SPWG report points to clear evidence that the marketing of cigarettes has been successful in encouraging young people to smoke and suggests that the ban on tobacco advertising and promotion is being undermined by other opportunities which exist for other forms of marketing (such as cigarette displays) and the positive images of smokers and smoking which appear in the media. In determining the way forward, key points borne in mind were:

  • Although tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship are prohibited in the UK, opportunities exist for other forms of marketing, including product placement and prominent displays of tobacco products at points of sale
  • While strong support was evident for SPWG's recommendation that displays of tobacco products should be banned, the consultation results suggest retailing interests are strongly opposed to such a move including for operational reasons, indicating a need to consider the proportionality of such a step
  • Positive images of smokers continue to be featured in the media, including youth media (e.g. films and magazines) and there is a suggestion from the young people's focus group that this normalises smoking
  • The evidence to suggest graphic picture warnings are highly effective in discouraging people to quit smoking.


Against this background the Scottish Government proposes:

11. To introduce legislative controls to further restrict the display of tobacco products at points of sale, and to work with retailers on the implementation of these measures.
Delivery lead: Scottish Government. Timescale: At the earliest legislative opportunity

12. To consider with the UK Government and other devolved administrations, the impact of the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 and consider further action which might be taken to reduce positive images of smoking in the media, including examining the impact of film classification, and the scope for making anti-smoking adverts mandatory prior to the screening of any film which contains smoking imagery.
Delivery lead: Scottish Government. Timescale: Ongoing

13. To consider with the UK Government and other devolved administrations the impact of the introduction by the end of 2008 of picture warnings on cigarette packs and to consider whether it would be desirable to move towards plain packaging of tobacco products.
Delivery lead: Scottish Government. Timescale: Ongoing

14. To encourage all organisations and agencies who in come into contact with children and young, including NHS organisations, local authorities and care providers, to have a health leadership role and be at the vanguard of changing smoking cultures in Scotland, by, for example, introducing smoke-free policies in external areas frequented by children and young people such as playgrounds.
Delivery lead: NHS organisations, local authorities and care providers, etc. Timescale: Ongoing

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