Wednesday, 20 October 2010


This week ASH Scotland launched Beyond Smoke-free, an ambitious, far-reaching set of proposals for a strategic approach to continuing to reduce tobacco harm in Scotland. These recommendations were formed after consultation with academics, NHS workers, service users and with inputs from an expert advisory group. They take account of research findings and international strategic thinking. Funding from Cancer Research UK made it possible for us to undertake this work, and to highlight the fact that tobacco is the largest preventable killer we face in Scotland. It is an epidemic we cannot afford to ignore.

Beyond Smoke-free covers smoking prevention, cessation, reducing exposure to tobacco smoke, and makes recommendations on Government, society and industry. There are 33 robust yet achievable proposals for the short and medium term, with a longer term vision for progress. I hope that all our political parties will use these to inform their thinking about Scotland’s future public health, and commit to a new comprehensive strategic approach to tackling tobacco.

One of the recommendations – to support speedy progress towards EU standards for fire safer cigarettes while ensuring the negotiations are not exploited by tobacco companies – seems especially relevant this month as new statistics were released on fire deaths in Scotland. Of the 49 fatal casualties in accidental dwellings fires in 2008-09, smoking materials were the cause of 22 of the deaths. Those most at risk of fire deaths tend to be older people living alone. Alcohol or drugs can be a factor, making it less likely that people will react in time to the danger. In many cases, fire investigators find warning signs that could have alerted people to the potential for tragedy, such as burn marks on carpets, furniture or clothes.

Fire safer cigarettes (or RIP, reduced ignition propensity) cigarettes are designed to go out rather than keep smouldering when not being puffed. They were first introduced nationally in Canada, and in 2010 were mandated throughout America, in Finland and Australia. Undoubtedly they save lives but like any other tobacco control measure this is not something that can be done in isolation. They reduce but cannot completely prevent fires. They do nothing to prevent the diseases caused by tobacco. So we also need accessible smoking cessation services, targets to reduce illicit tobacco, work to engage young people with smoke-free choices, and a continuing vigilance towards tobacco industry promotional activities. We need a new ambitious and comprehensive national tobacco control strategy and a commitment to continuing Scotland’s success in acting to reduce the impacts of tobacco on our nation’s health and prosperity.


  1. Have ASH (Scotland)considered the fact that had they not so restricted where people can smoke then the number of alleged deaths due to housefires started by smoking would be very much lower?

    The increase is comensuate with the increased numbers of people smoking at home because there is nowhere else to smoke! a by-product of recommendations made by Sheila Duffy and ASH.

    If she is so concerned about fire deaths then allow smoking pubs which will reduce the numbers of people smoking at home, reduce noise levels outside pubs and put an end to complaints about having to walk through clouds of smoke which are also by-products of the law.

    the more restrictions that put in place against smokers the more people will smoke at home and the greater the risk of deaths through fire, so how about it Sheila would you like to save some lives instead of taking them?

  2. Ban tobacco all together.

    No..Sheila cries !!! My well paid non-job will no longer be needed. I don't actually want to ban tobacco...just stop people using it.

  3. Epidemic? Really? I think you are overstating the case to secure your own funds Sheila. The money wasted on your organisation should be used to solve real problems and real worthy causes like heroin addiction for example.

    My city had an epidemic of that. Young people were dying, no funds came to help them or their desperate families who watched them decline into crime, and skeletal conditions before that last hit took them. The dealers were supplying the "poor and the stupid", crime rose horrifically, old people got mugged and robbed. Where were you and our money then Sheila?

    I've seen no sign of a tobacco "epidemic" anywhere in the Uk. As a smoker of 42 years, I can quite categorically say, tobacco has caused no such tragedy in the lives of those who enjoy it.

    It's time your public funding was cut. You should rely on your own fundraising efforts and the cash from your bedfellows in corrupt Big Pharma corps. You should not be leeching off the taxpayer, telling lies and spreading hate to keep the public cash pouring in.

    In doing so, you are denying those that deserve funding the chance to make a real difference. You should be ashamed. You are helping no one but yourself and your own bigoted organisation.

  4. The smoking ban has doubled the amount of tobacco litter on our streets, increasing the costs of street cleaning. Permitting smoking rooms for adult use, with good air filtration in pubs and other public buildings would halve this cost and restore peoples dignity which has been taken away by this totally disproportionate legislation.
    Thanks to the likes of ASH smokers are now treated like a social underclass and are forced to stand outside on the street to smoke.
    Lets hope the bigots at ASH have their funding cut. It appears to be achieving very little apart from persecuting and ruining the lives of those of us that smoke.
    MINTEL reported in 2009 that as a result of the smoking ban that people are becoming more trapped in their homes and go out less: 22% of people feel the ban has disrupted their socialising and 16% less or some 2 million adults go out less. Is it any wonder that there are more smoking related fires, occuring in the home. Its your organisations fault Sheila !!!