Government versus the people
Sunday, June 17, 2018 at 11:53
Simon Clark

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:


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

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

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.

Article originally appeared on Simon Clark (
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