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by Staff reporter
20 September 2023
MSPs call for urgent action to improve Scotland’s health

MSPs call for urgent action to improve Scotland’s health

A group of cross-party MSPs have called for urgent action to tackle the damage to people’s health caused by smoking, junk food and alcohol.

The five MSPs have backed a report from the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Alliance in Scotland published today. It highlights the dangerous links between unhealthy lifestyle habits and NCDs – a group of non-infectious diseases that includes heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lung disease and diabetes.    

These diseases are a major cause of ill health and are thought to be responsible for 53,000 deaths in Scotland, or 85 per cent of all deaths. With an estimated one in five deaths from NCDs in Scotland caused by tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food and drinks, the report urges the Scottish Government to take the lead in helping to create a healthier society.

The report is signed by MSPs Foysol Choudhury, Sandesh Gulhane, Emma Harper, Gillian Mackay and Carol Mochan, who have joined the NCD Alliance in calling on the Scottish Government to do more to meet its targets of halving childhood obesity, creating a tobacco free generation, and reducing the consumption of alcohol.

As things stand, deaths from obesity are forecast to rise by five per cent by 2026 in Scotland, the 2034 Tobacco-Free Generation pledge is off track, and the wealth divide in the dangerous consumption of alcohol is expected to double by 2026.

Putting strong prevention measures in place now has the potential to reduce health inequality across Scotland. The harm caused by tobacco, alcohol and junk food hits deprived areas the hardest, so urgent prevention measures are vital to reduce Scotland’s 25-year gap in healthy life expectancy between the most and least affluent communities.

David McColgan, chair of the NCD Alliance and Head of BHF Scotland, said: The damaging effects of tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food on the nation’s health is clear for all to see. Swift and urgent action is required to stop more people from developing these diseases in the first place, and for everyone in Scotland to have the same opportunity to live a healthy life.

“The Scottish Parliament has a bold history of public health measures, including leading the UK on measures such as the smoking ban. However, further action is now needed to prevent avoidable harm to people’s health and reduce the startling health inequalities we currently see across the nation.”

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