ASH Scotland urges Scottish Government and health boards to build on success of narrowing smoking inequalities gap

06 December 2023

ASH Scotland is urging the Scottish Government and regional NHS health boards to build on the success illustrated by the latest Scottish Health Survey figures which suggest a significant narrowing of the smoking inequalities gap between the country’s most and least deprived communities.

The charity is welcoming the statistics showing increasing numbers of people in Scotland’s poorest areas leaving tobacco behind between 2019 and 2022, and wants to see the promotion, collaboration and reach of specialist Quit Your Way services being ramped up to support more people in the most socio-economically deprived communities to quit smoking.

Smoking prevalence figures for the poorest Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 1 quintiles now stand at 25%, down from 32% in 2019, whilst figures for the least deprived SIMD 5 quintiles have remained consistent around 6% to 7% during the last three years. This means that whilst there were five times as many people who smoked in Scotland’s poorest areas compared to the most affluent in 2019, the difference has now decreased to three and a half times.

Scotland’s overall smoking rate has continued to follow a consistent downward trend since 2003, with prevalence dropping from 17% in 2019 to 15% in 2022.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of the health charity ASH Scotland, said: “Smoking continues to drive health inequalities and is the biggest preventable cause of death with more than 8,000 tobacco-related fatalities in Scotland each year.

“It is vital that the Scottish Government and NHS health boards build on the success of the 7% reduction in smoking rates in our poorest areas by ramping up the promotion and expansion of collaborative work with third sector organisations and community groups to target smoking prevention and stop-smoking marketing campaigns to more effectively reach people in communities that have the highest smoking rates.

“Two-thirds of Scots who smoke want to quit so we need to do more to ensure that Scotland’s specialist Quit Your Way services, which provide person-centred support delivered by qualified health professionals, are promoted and easily accessible to continue tackling the harms and inequalities caused by tobacco use in our society.”

Anyone who has the goal of giving up smoking can contact a Quit Your Way adviser by calling the free helpline on 0800 848484 or create a quit plan at