ASH Scotland calls for increased stop smoking support for Scotland’s poorest communities

08 March 2023

ASH Scotland is calling for increased smoking cessation support in communities experiencing multiple-deprivation,as new analysis suggests that average smoking households in the country’s lowest income group will spend 29.4% of income on tobacco in 2023, around nine times more than the 3.35% estimated to be spent by similar households in the highest income group.

Research commissioned by the health charity for publication on No Smoking Day (Wednesday 8 March 2023) also estimates that households in the country’s lowest income group containing two or more people who smoke will spend on average £6,087 on tobacco in 2023, which would account for 73.5% of income.

As part of its ‘Quit and Win’ campaign, ASH Scotland is highlighting that the average Scottish household containing people who smoke could save a staggering £3,308 within 12 months of giving up. The charity also says quitting smoking brings health benefits such as decreasing the risks of coronary heart disease and lung cancer, after one year and 10 years respectively, by about 50% compared to people who continue to smoke tobacco.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, said: “Tobacco is a major cause of inequalities, and the projected figures for 2023 we are releasing today spotlight the increasing need for NHS Quit Your Way services in Scotland to be better resourced and promoted to support people to leave tobacco behind, especially in communities facing the greatest challenges.

“Addiction is not a lifestyle choice – it is a public health concern and a social justice issue – and people experiencing poverty are just as likely to want to quit smoking as anyone else.

“It is more important than ever that people facing everyday stresses during the cost of living crisis are empowered to access expert person-centred support free from the NHS. This support is vital to ensure the success of quit smoking attempts which, if successful, will build up people’s health and finances.

“Going forward, the Scottish Government’s new Tobacco Action Plan needs to be ambitious, with actions taken to prevent young people from starting to smoke and more targeted support being provided for citizens aiming to stop.”

Public Health Minister, Maree Todd MSP, said: “No Smoking Day, promoted by ASH Scotland, is a great opportunity to take the first step towards quitting and making significant improvements to your health. Free support and advice is available at the Quit Your Way Scotland website.

“A range of world-leading Tobacco Control measures have been introduced in Scotland which are steadily reducing the proportion of people smoking according to the Scottish Health Survey. Our goal is a tobacco-free generation of Scots by 2034 and our refreshed Tobacco Action Plan will be published in autumn this year.”

ASH Scotland is encouraging people who smoke to ‘Quit and Win’ by seeking person-centred support from local cessation services, contacting the NHS’s Quit Your Way Scotland’s free helpline 0800 848484 or creating a quit plan at www.QuitYourWay.Scot