Non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and lung disease contribute to more than two-thirds of all deaths in Scotland every year. Sadly, many of these deaths are wholly preventable. Smoking is the direct cause of 16% of all deaths in Scotland and kills two in every three long-term smokers. It is the leading cause of preventable cancer, contributes to cardio-vascular and pulmonary health problems and has a significant negative impact at all stages of life – from causing sudden and unexpected death in infants to dementia in later life.
Although smoking rates are falling in all our communities, those living in less wealthy areas are five times more likely to smoke than those in more affluent areas. In addition, young carers and care experienced young people are more likely to smoke.
While we continue to work towards addressing historic trends of high smoking rates, we are aware that technological and cultural advancements can bring about new public health concerns. The emergence of vaping products, including electronic cigarettes, as an alternative to tobacco is one such concern. The full impact of their long-term use is not yet known and could have a negative impact on public health in years to come.
Scotland has a world-leading approach to public health initiatives and, as the health impacts generated by long-term use of these products, with or without nicotine, are currently uncertain, the Scottish Government proposes to do what is within our devolved powers to restrict the advertising channels not currently banned (such as billboards and bus shelters, etc.).
We also propose to introduce restrictions on other promotional activity such as free distribution, sponsorship and brand sharing – where the logos and/or colours of a particular product are used on an unrelated product for promotional purposes – to more fully protect non-smokers. Reducing exposure to the advertising and promotion of vape products is the best way to protect non-smokers, young people and children from being enticed to experiment with these products. Vaping products should only be used as a tool to help people stop smoking tobacco. They are not a lifestyle accessory.
This consultation was a commitment in our 2018 Tobacco-Control Action Plan. It seeks views on proposed regulations which aim to strike a balance between protecting non-smokers and making information available to smokers. Your responses will help shape the extent of these regulations.
Minister for Public Health, Women's Health and Sport
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