COLUMN: Public Health improvements across the country

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Published in the Glenrothes Gazette and East Fife Mail on 21 February 2024

Earlier this month, the Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health, Jenni Minto MSP, gave a statement to the Scottish Parliament outlining the Scottish Government’s work to tackle vaping among young people. The Scottish Government is focused on building a tobacco-free Scotland, where less than 5% of the adult population smoke, by 2034. Scotland is already a leader in legislating against the dangers of smoking, from banning it from public spaces all the way back in 2006 to the 2022 smoking ban around hospital buildings.

The first implementation plan of the Scottish Government’s Tobacco and Vaping Framework, published back in November. The plan will improve cessation services through the Quit Your Way campaign, which offers compassionate guidance to help smokers quit for good. This guidance is available by phone on 0800 84 84 84 or on the NHS Inform website: www.nhsinform.scot/quit-your-way-scotland/. Working with schools and parents, the Framework will also deliver a media campaign to discourage young people from vaping by highlighting the risks involved and increasing awareness of different avenues of support available.

This plan is just one part of the Scottish Government’s approach to improving Scotland’s public health and follows Deputy First Minister Shona Robison MSP’s announcement this month that minimum unit pricing in Scotland will rise from 50p to 65p. Scotland was the first country in the world to implement minimum unit pricing back in 2018, and has since been followed by Wales, Ireland, Ukraine, and Armenia. 

This move, which will be put to the Scottish Parliament this week, readjusts the minimum price of a unit of alcohol in line with inflation and will ensure the policy’s continued success at reducing harmful levels of drinking as well as health inequalities across the country. Research from Public Health Scotland shows that with minimum unit pricing, Scotland has significantly reduced fatalities wholly attributable to alcohol.

We have come a long way as a nation in reducing our smoking and alcohol consumption, and I’m pleased that these new plans will ensure that we become an even fairer and healthier Scotland in the near future.

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