Tobacco Control Strategy - Creating a Tobacco-Free Generation

The strategy sets out a 5 year plan for action across the key themes of health inequalities, prevention, protection and cessation

Chapter 2 Targets for a Tobacco-Free Scotland

In setting out our aspirations for a tobacco-free Scotland, we have decided - for the first time - to set a target date by which we expect to realise this ambition. This date is 2034. In setting this target, we have defined 'tobacco-free' as a smoking prevalence among the adult population of 5% or lower.

In taking this approach, it is important to be clear about what we hope to achieve. This is not about unfairly stigmatising those people who chose to smoke, or who are unable to give up. The target reflects the fact that we are not taking a prohibition stance and that it is unlikely for smoking to be phased out altogether.

Our overriding aim in setting this target is to create a generation of Scots who do not want to smoke. A child born in 2013 will celebrate their 21st birthday in 2034. Creating a Scotland for that young adult, largely devoid of tobacco use - with all the health, social and economic benefits that entails - would be an achievement of which we could all be proud.

Our target date is informed by modelling work to ensure the target is both challenging and achievable. A technical paper outlining this work will be published alongside this Strategy on the Scottish Government Tobacco Control webpage. This modelling work also points to the actions we need to take to realise this target. Whilst the delivery of increasingly effective cessation services will make a contribution, it is clear that the key factor in ensuring success will be maintaining the continued downward trend in the take-up of smoking among young people. To that end, our modelling work assumes prevalence rates among 15 year olds will decrease by 2.5 percentage points every two years until reaching a floor of 2%. This, therefore, places a premium on the prevention actions identified in this Strategy aimed at creating an environment where young people do not want to smoke.

Given the clear inequalities dimension to smoking prevalence rates, we have also included 5-year milestones, setting out how prevalence needs to reduce by SIMD quintile to achieve the 2034 target. We will monitor progress through the Scottish Household Survey. The first 5-year milestone is in 2016; this data will be available when the results of the Scottish Household Survey are published in autumn 2017.

Table 1 - SIMD smoking prevalence milestones

Most deprived
Least deprived
2011 38 29 22 16 12 23%
2016 27 21 18 13 10 17%
2021 19 15 13 10 7 12%
2026 13 10 9 7 5 9%
2031 9 7 6 5 4 6%
2036 7 5 5 4 3 4%


Email: Lee-Anne Raeburn

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