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Smoking ban

Published: 23 Mar 2016 12:00

Ahead of its tenth anniversary, Public Health Minister Maureen Watt reflects on the impact of the smoking ban.

"We know in Scotland we have some really deep rooted public health challenges to deal with.

"But we also have a proud record of taking brave and innovative steps to make our country a healthier place.

"There is no doubt the ban on smoking in public places ranks highly amongst the steps that, as a country, we have taken together.

"As we approach the tenth anniversary of the smoking ban, it is clear that this was, without doubt, the right thing to do. The positive impact on our health and our future health is without question.

"Things have had to change. But few would argue they haven't changed for the better.

"Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in public places. Since then, evidence shows that the smoking ban has contributed to a 39 per cent reduction in second-hand smoke exposure in adults and 11-year old children, a 17 per cent reduction in hospital admissions for acute coronary syndrome and improvements in the respiratory health of bar workers.

"Nearly nine out of ten Scottish adults – and almost two thirds of smokers – support the smoking ban.

"It has increased awareness of the risks associated with second-hand smoke and there is some evidence of changing social norms around exposing others to second-hand smoke. There was also a 15 per cent reduction in the number of children with asthma being admitted to hospital in the three years after the ban came into force. And just last month, a study suggested that the ban may have helped reduce the number of teenagers taking up smoking by a fifth.

"But we know there is much more to do, and we remain firmly committed to creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034.

"We've taken further action to reduce the harm caused by tobacco: banning the display of tobacco products in shops, banning cigarette vending machines, creating a new tobacco retail register, supporting plain packaging and making it illegal to smoke in cars where children are present. Most recently we passed legislation to restrict the sale and availability of e-cigarettes to under-18s and make it an offence to smoke near buildings on hospital grounds.

"Since the ban came into place, Scotland has continued to pursue a bold and innovative approach towards public health. We remain committed to minimum unit pricing, which we know is the most effective pricing measure to tackle Scotland's harmful relationship with alcohol.

"And we are taking advice on how Scotland could fortify flour with folic acid, which we believe can help to save many families from the heartbreak of being told their baby has Spina Bifida.

"Together, and with the public's support, all of these steps take us closer to our goal of a healthier Scotland."