Tobacco use: policy context

The UK Government and Scottish Government are committed to reducing tobacco smoking and the associated burden of death and disease. This is demonstrated by the publication of various policy documents over recent years, including:

Creating a smoke-free generation: Tobacco control strategy (2013)

This strategy sets out a 5 year plan for action across the key themes of health inequalities, prevention, protection and cessation. Key actions include: setting 2034 as a target date for reducing smoking prevalence to 5%; a pilot of the schools-based ASSIST programme; a requirement for smoke-free hospital grounds by March 2015; and a national marketing campaign on the dangers of second-hand smoke in cars and other enclosed spaces. In addition, it will provide the government’s view on standardised packaging of tobacco products.

A breath of fresh air for Scotland: Tobacco control action plan (2004)

This plan was the main reference point and policy context for all tobacco-related work in Scotland before the tobacco control strategy was launched in 2013. The document offers a programme of action covering prevention and education, protection and controls and the expansion of high quality cessation services. It also addresses the issue of second hand smoking.

Scotland´s future is smoke-free: A smoking prevention action plan (2008)

This action plan sets out a programme of measures designed specifically to dissuade children and young people from smoking.

Reducing smoking and tobacco related harm: A key to transforming Scotland´s health (2003)

This report produced by NHS Health Scotland and ASH Scotland led to the publication of the tobacco control action plan, a breath of fresh air. The report examined the current smoking trends in Scotland, summarised the evidence on smoking and tobacco related harm (including the dangers of second-hand smoke), considered various policies, and recommended future action that should be taken in Scotland.

Towards a future without tobacco (2006)

This report led to the publication of ´Scotland´s future is smoke-free: A smoking prevention action plan. This report makes a comprehensive series of recommendations intended to protect and dissuade young people in Scotland from starting to smoke.

Plain packaging

In January 2015, the UK Government announced its intention to introduce regulations for standardised packaging of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco and in March 2015 MPs voted in favour of of its introduction. The proposed regulations would standardise the packaging of all cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco for retail sale by:

  • specifying mandatory colours for retail packaging (dull brown for the outside and white for the inside;
  • permitting only specified text (such as the brand and variant name) and making sure any permitted text conforms to particular requirements;
  • allowing required markings such as health warnings and fiscal marks (including covert markings and any future requirements that may be introduced to tackle illicit trade) to remain in place.

Ministers in Scotland will need to confirm whether they consent to the regulations applying to those parts of the UK.