Policies out of touch

| June 19, 2018

Most Scots think government policies aimed at reducing smoking rates have gone too far or far enough, according to the results of a new poll.

A majority would allow smoking rooms in pubs and clubs, and permit designated smoking areas in prisons and hospital grounds.

An overwhelming majority think smoking should be allowed in the home and in private vehicles.

The public also believes the Scottish Government has more pressing concerns than tackling smoking.

The poll of 1,021 adults in Scotland was carried out by Populus for the smokers’ group Forest ahead of the announcement of the Scottish Government’s new tobacco control plan which is expected later this month.

Key findings of the poll were:

  • 54 percent of people think Government policies to reduce smoking rates have gone too far or far enough; 37 percent think they have not gone far enough; and nine percent are undecided.
  • (12 years after smoking was banned in every pub and club in Scotland) 57 percent of people think pubs and private members’ clubs, including working men’s clubs, should be allowed to provide a well-ventilated designated smoking room, while 16 percent are opposed to the idea and 27 percent are undecided.
  • (With regard to the Scottish Government’s zero tolerance policy on smoking in prisons) 66 percent of people agree that prisoners should be allowed to smoke in designated smoking areas.
  • (With regard to the Scottish Government’s zero tolerance policy on smoking in hospital grounds) 56 percent of people and 82 percent of frequent smokers believe that National Health Service (NHS) hospital trusts should be allowed to provide designated smoking areas in hospital grounds for patients, visitors and staff.
  • (Following calls to extend smoking bans to social housing, all private vehicles and some public parks) 86 percent of people think smoking should be permitted in the home; 74 percent think smoking should be permitted when smokers are alone in their own vehicle; and 55 percent think smoking should be allowed in outdoor public parks.
  • (Smoking on stage and film and TV sets is allowed in England but not in Scotland where it was outlawed in 2006) 61 percent of respondents believe that actors should be allowed to smoke on stage in Scotland when smoking is integral to the plot or characterisation, while 34 percent are opposed to the idea.

Meanwhile, Scots believe the Scottish Government has more pressing concerns than tackling smoking. Asked to consider a list of 10 priorities for the NHS in Scotland, respondents said investing in new doctors and nurses is the most important priority and tackling smoking is the least important priority.

When it comes to local government priorities in Scotland, tackling smoking was again considered the least important priority, with maintenance of roads and bridges considered the most important.

Other findings were:

  • 44 percent of Scots think that tobacco taxation (which is responsible for between 80 and 90 percent of the price of a pack of cigarettes) is too high, 41 percent think it is about right and 15 percent think it is too low.
  • 61 percent of respondents agreed that existing measures to reduce smoking rates should be subject to a full and independent review to consider their impact on consumers, retailers and public health before the Scottish Government proceeds with further measures to reduce the sale and consumption of tobacco products.
  • 34 percent think smokers are treated unfairly by the Government, 28 percent believe they are treated fairly, and 38 percent believe they are treated neither fairly nor unfairly.
  • 73 percent of regular smokers polled believe smokers are treated unfairly by the Government.

Urging the Scottish Government to “abandon its war on smokers”, Forest director Simon Clark (pictured) said the Scottish political establishment was clearly out of step with the public who supported fair and reasonable restrictions on where people could smoke, not prohibition.

“Any further regulations to tackle smoking would be a distraction from other more important issues facing central and local government in Scotland,” he said.

“The Scottish Government should listen to public opinion, abandon its war on smokers and focus on education not legislation.”

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Category: Breaking News, People, Regulation

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