MINISTERS refreshing Scotland’s tobacco policies have been urged to put health warnings on individual cigarettes.
Experts from the charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) Scotland are encouraging the Scottish Government to follow in the footsteps of countries like Canada and New Zealand in their anti-smoking policies.
Canada will become the first country in the world to require health warnings on each cigarette, with a phased approach being implemented from August.
With warning labels including “poison in every puff”, it is anticipated that all Canadian retailers will only sell tobacco products with the new warning labels by April 2025.
The Scottish Government will update its tobacco action plan, which aims to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034, later this year.
Scotland was a world leader in introducing a smoking ban in almost all enclosed public spaces – but campaigners now say ministers need to go further as it moves towards becoming tobacco-free.
Sheila Duffy, chief executive of Ash Scotland, said ministers can “re-establish” Scotland as a “world-leading public health nation” by introducing bold measures.
The charity’s recommendations also include providing accessible support for those who smoke frequently and limiting the visibility of products in shops.
She said: “With the Scottish Government refreshing its tobacco action plan later this year, it is vital that Scotland matches the level of bold and ambitious measures set by New Zealand, Australia and Canada in recent months if we are to achieve the goal of a tobacco-free generation by 2034.
“We need measures to be introduced that will save lives and address the substantial inequalities in our communities facing the greatest challenges during the cost-of-living crisis.”
In another world first, New Zealand passed legislation in December which will see those aged 14 and under – born on or after January 1, 2009 – banned from ever purchasing tobacco products, while Australia only allow vapes to be sold in pharmacies as aids for those who are trying to quit.
Duffy added: “Removing addictive nicotine from cigarettes, adding health warnings to cigarettes, reducing the visibility and availability of tobacco and related products, implementing evidence-based public health campaigns to motivate people who use tobacco to quit smoking, and providing increased easily accessible person-centred support to those in communities with a high prevalence of tobacco use are just some of the measures that merit strong consideration.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “A range of world-leading tobacco control measures have already been introduced in Scotland which are steadily reducing the proportion of people smoking.
“We remain committed to a tobacco-free Scotland by lowering smoking rates in our communities to 5% or less by 2034. Achieving this ambitious target will allow us to protect children born since 2013 so that when they turn 21 they will be tobacco-free and will come of age in a Scotland that will remain tobacco-free for generations to come.
“We are considering a range of next steps to reach this target, which will be published as part of our refreshed tobacco action plan in the autumn.”