Scotland's new tobacco control plan tightens the net on smokers
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at 22:51
Simon Clark

I was expecting the Scottish Government to publish its updated tobacco control plan this week or next, but the timing, late yesterday afternoon, still took me by surprise.

I was on a train at the time, returning from London where I had been doing an interview for BBC Look North on an initiative by Hull City Council to ban smoking at the gates of local schools.

Suddenly I began getting requests for a response to the Scottish Government's proposals to create a 'smoke free generation' by 2034.

The plans include 44 measures some of which – banning smoking in prisons and hospital grounds, for example – are already in the process of being implemented.

As a result the papers that have run the story have focussed on a 'new' idea – that of banning people from smoking in social housing:

We will explore with local authorities and housing associations the idea of tobacco-free clauses in tenancy agreements and smoke-free housing alternatives being offered in social housing.

I say 'new'. It was first flagged in October last year following which ASH Scotland denied that they wanted to ban people smoking in their own homes.

Anyway, back to yesterday's announcement. The Times took a slightly different tack, leading its report with the headline 'Smokers face minimum price for tobacco'.

You can read Forest's response here. So far we've been quoted by The Times (Scotland), The Scotsman, Scottish Daily Mail, Scottish Daily Express, Daily Record and Edinburgh Evening News.

Indicative, perhaps, of a certain anti-smoking fatigue, the Scottish Government announcement has not been reported universally. BBC News Scotland, for example, has ignored it.

Personally I'd like as much coverage as possible so we can demonstrate how little public support there is for further anti-smoking measures.

The plan to ban smoking in social housing is particularly egregious. Last night I was trying to get my head round it because it wasn't clear whether the idea is to ban smoking in people's homes or in communal areas such as stairwells.

This morning I read that some people are already banned from smoking in their homes by their tenancy agreements. The result is they smoke in stairwells and other communal areas, hence the proposal to ban smoking outside their homes as well.

In short, it's clear that the goal is to ban smoking inside and outside social housing. That, along with the ban on smoking in hospital grounds (under threat of prosecution if you light up), is truly despicable.

Inch by inch the net is tightening on smokers despite (as our latest poll suggests) a general lack of public support for further anti-tobacco measures.

The good news? Some of the Scottish Government's plans are, for now, merely up for consideration so there's time to make as much noise as we can. And we will.

Article originally appeared on Simon Clark (http://taking-liberties.squarespace.com/).
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