Associate feature: We must reduce smoking in all our communities
Today, in our most affluent communities, around nine per cent of people are smoking.
In our most deprived communities, that figure is a massive 32 per cent, more than three times as many smokers.
We know that tobacco prematurely ends the life of around half of the people who smoke it. In Scotland, it causes 100,000 hospitalisations and 9,000 deaths per year.
With such high smoking prevalence in our hardest-pressed communities, we are condemning vulnerable people to a life of poor health and shortened life expectancy.
This is utterly unacceptable. We are failing some of our citizens.
Scotland’s health needs urgent action to stop this crisis and end the epidemic caused by commercial products like tobacco.
We need to support our communities in finding their right to good health and adding quality into the years they have left.
That’s why ASH Scotland is joining forces to call on the next Scottish Government to follow a prevention agenda to tackle the health inequalities that are growing in our communities.
We must do everything we can to stop this preventable ill health and death.
We need to targeted information and support for those who most need it whilst putting smoking out of sight and out of mind.
We need policy decisions that are bold, and we need to ensure that Scottish Government have the tools and power to make those decisions.
We need to look at the pricing and availability of cigarettes and at the support that needs to be in place to help people quit.
ASH Scotland is committed to pushing Scottish Government to make good on its tobacco control promises and increasing the effort that is surely required if we are to meet the 2034 target of reducing smoking prevalence to five per cent in Scotland.
However, we must take care that in striving for that target we reduce prevalence in every community.
It will be a travesty if we achieve it by eradicating smoking in wealthy areas, whilst leaving a prevailing crisis amongst our most disenfranchised.
Sheila Duffy is the chief executive of ASH Scotland. This feature was sponsored by ASH Scotland.