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Government versus the people

The Scottish Government is expected to announce its new tobacco control strategy before the end of the month.

It will almost certainly go further than the tobacco control plan announced last year by the Conservative government in Westminster.

That stopped short of further legislation although it did include a target of reducing smoking rates from 15.5 per cent to no more than 12 per cent by 2022.

In contrast Scotland's previous tobacco control strategy, published in 2013, set 2034 as a target date for reducing smoking prevalence to just five per cent.

Earlier this year however doubts were expressed that Scotland is on course to meet this target so it doesn't take a clairvoyant to predict that Shona Robison, Scotland's under pressure health minister, is likely to respond with some headline-catching initiative.

Anyway, ahead of the forthcoming announcement, Forest commissioned a poll of 1,000+ adults in Scotland.

Conducted by Populus, the results demonstrate for the umpteenth time that the general public is not as anti-smoking as politicians and tobacco control campaigners want us to believe.

Here are the headline findings:

  • Most Scots think government policies to reduce smoking rates have gone too far or far enough.
  • 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 believes the Scottish Government has more pressing concerns than tackling smoking.


  • 54 per cent think government policies to reduce smoking rates have gone too far or far enough. Only 37 per cent think they have not gone far enough with nine per cent undecided.
  • Nearly three in five adults (57 per cent) think pubs and private members’ clubs, including working men’s clubs, should be allowed to provide a well-ventilated designated smoking room, with only one in six (16 per cent) opposed to the idea and a quarter (27 per cent) undecided.

Significantly, given that banning smoking in prisons and hospital grounds are flagship policies for the Scottish Government, Populus also found that:

  • Overall there is support for inmates in Scottish prisons to be permitted to smoke, with two thirds (66 per cent) of respondents agreeing that prisoners should be allowed to smoke in designated smoking areas.

  • Over half of all respondents (56 per cent) – and 82 per cent of frequent smokers – believe that NHS hospital trusts should be allowed to provide designated smoking areas in hospital grounds for patients, visitors and staff.

Meanwhile, in response to those who want smoking prohibited in social housing and in all private vehicles in Scotland, Populus found that:

  • 86 per cent think smoking should be permitted in the home.
  • 74 per cent think smoking should be permitted when smokers are alone in their own vehicle.

You can read our news release here.

The Sunday Times Scotland has published a short report that begins:

Most Scots believe smoking should be allowed in special ventilated rooms in pubs and private clubs, it has emerged as ministers prepare to announce stronger tobacco controls.

A poll of more than 1,000 Scots, for Forest, the pro-smoking lobby group, found that 57% thought bars and clubs, including working men’s clubs, should be allowed to provide smoking rooms.

The paper includes this quote from me:

“The Scottish political establishment is clearly out of step with the general public who support fair and reasonable restrictions on where people can smoke, not prohibition.

“The fact that a majority of adults support designated smoking rooms in pubs and clubs suggests that the smoking ban is not as universally popular as we are led to believe.

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

The headline however reads: Expert stubs out pub ‘smoking room’ idea.

And who is the 'expert'? Why, none other than taxpayer-funded lobbyists Sheila Duffy, CEO of ASH Scotland. You couldn't make it up.

Truth is, the paper has missed the real significance of the poll and it's this.

Most people in Scotland do not support comprehensive smoking bans (even in prisons and hospital grounds) and the majority are in general far less anti-smoking than our so-called elected 'representatives'.

Unfortunately it's difficult to condense that into a short, snappy headline, nor does it suit the narrative the Scottish establishment, including the media, likes to promote.

Anyway, we'll do our best to get the message across although, understandably, the news in Scotland is dominated by the Glasgow School of Art fire that broke out on Friday night.

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Reader Comments (6)

Public opinion counts for nothing unless it supports ASH's position. We know this because Debs told us.

The paper missed the point of this poll on purpose. The Scottish establishment is now so smokerphobic it would think nothing morally wrong about flogging smokers in the street to try and force them to quit.

Sunday, June 17, 2018 at 13:38 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

As I have said before, this is not the only thing the SNP are doing in Scotland, they have been hiding behind the likes of ash and co in order to put their ideology into action and control how people live, alas however we still have the sheep who vote them into power on the promise of freedom. Hopefully the silent majority of sane Scots will speak up and tell this snp government enough is enough their policies are dragging Scotland down to a third world country. But wil the snp listen I seriously doubt it

Sunday, June 17, 2018 at 13:48 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Kerr

Once again the totalitarian 'controlling class' as exemplified by Sheila Duffy of ASH is dominating the political stage and media arena. They ignore the will of the people and as Orwell warned persist in promulgating lies to secure their tyranny.

It is imperative to keep the pressure on these racketeers and to expose the collusion and lies underlying the statements of their so-called 'experts'. In this case, rather than an expert you have a corrupt political operative taking government funds to lobby the same government. That is collusion, a tactic employed by oligarchs and autocrats in totalitarian states not a free democracy.

The results of the recent poll need to be disseminated to all media outlets, all publicans, and all MSPs.

Sunday, June 17, 2018 at 17:03 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

No idea why you persist with the "Scotsman". It has neither the editorial inclination, nor the demographic for even a passing interest in anything that might rob them of very lucrative advertising.

One newspaper that has the right demographic and has frequently questioned many anti smoking issues is the "Daily Record".

Were I in your position I'd make a point of getting to know the editor.

As if on q, here's an example of what you're up against with the "Scotsman".

Sunday, June 17, 2018 at 21:54 | Unregistered CommenterSmoking Scot

It looks like the antismoking lock on power in Scotland is being challenged in South Ayrshire. A recent article at the Daily Record notes that the local council is considering revoking a three-year old outdoor smoking ban due to the economic losses experienced by pubs that followed the ban. The proposal would replace the ban with designated smoking areas.

Check out: "Ban on smoking outside cafes could be ditched"

Monday, June 18, 2018 at 17:13 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

Politicians who expect smokers like me to support them when they have behaved so badly are on another planet

Friday, June 22, 2018 at 18:04 | Unregistered Commentergray cooper

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