LAST year, New Zealand announced it planned to become the first country to ban the sale of tobacco to its next generation, with legislation that is due to be passed this year. And when one country starts out on a type of smoking ban generally a whole host of others join them. England and Wales have a target of going smoke-free by 2030, but a recently published independent review commissioned by UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has now called for reforms to make that happen. Will Scotland follow?

Follow? Surely if there’s a ban in the offing, Scotland will get ahead...

Just because we got the ban in on smoking in public spaces first doesn’t mean we’re out front. With smoking rates higher in Scotland than England (in 2020, around 14 percent of adults in Scotland smoked compared with 12% in England), we could be said to be trailing.

So what exactly are the recommended reforms?

In 2019, the Government set an objective for England to be smokefree by 2030, meaning only 5% of the population would smoke by then. But the review by Dr Javed Khan published last week warned that that the pledge would not be met unless a series of reforms were brought in, and the target of 2030 would be missed by seven years.

Among his 15 recommendations was “increasing the age of sale from 18, by one year, every year until no-one can buy a tobacco product in this country”.

And that could be said to be a gradual ban?


Controversial, I imagine, amongst many Conservatives. Even sounds a bit nanny state to me ...

Perhaps - if you call nanny state protecting people from a drug that is still the biggest cause of preventable illness and death in the UK. Dr Khan said the annual cost to society of smoking was around £17bn and said “making smoking obsolete in England would lift around 2.6 million adults and one million children out of poverty”. England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty added: “The cigarette industry lobbyists will try to make this a debate between health and freedom. It is the most dishonest debate you can possibly imagine. The majority of people who are smokers wish to quit, but cannot because the cigarette industry has addicted them at a very young age. They cannot. That is not freedom of choice.”

And what’s going on in Scotland?

Scotland has a goal of creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034. The Scottish Government is reportedly “currently refreshing” its tobacco plan.