Calls for health warning labels to be put on individual cigarettes

9 June 2023

By Lucy-skoulding-met, Metro

Ministers looking to refresh Scotland’s policies on tobacco are being urged by campaigners to add warnings to individual cigarettes.

The country has set a bold aim to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) Scotland, said the action plan, which will be updated later this year, could “re-establish” the country as a“world-leading public health nation”.

Campaigners from Ash are now urging the Scottish Government to follow countries including Canada and New Zealand in reforming its anti-smoking plans.

Canada is set to become the first country in the world to make it compulsory for health warnings to be added to individual cigarettes.

Labels such as ‘poison in every puff’ will be added to individual cigarettes very soon, with a phased approach to the new law beginning in August this year.

By April 2025, it’s anticipated that retailers in Canada will only sell tobacco products with these new labels on them.

Scotland was a world leader when it introduced the smoking ban in almost all enclosed spaces in 2006. England, Wales and Northern Ireland introduced the ban the following year in 2007.

But campaigners are now urging the government to go further in its mission to create a tobacco-free generation.

Ash is also recommending limiting the visibility of tobacco products in retail spaces and giving accessible support to people with high tobacco usage.

Ms Duffy said: ‘With the Scottish Government refreshing its tobacco action plan later this year, it is vital that Scotland matches the level of bold and ambitious measures set by New Zealand, Australia and Canada in recent months if we are to achieve the goal of a tobacco-free generation by 2034.

‘We need measures to be introduced that will save lives and address the substantial inequalities in our communities facing the greatest challenges during the cost-of-living crisis.’

It comes as New Zealand also passed bold new legislation in December which means anyone aged 14 and under – so those born on or after January 1 2009 – will be banned from ever buying tobacco products.

And Australia is only allowing vapes to be sold in pharmacies as aids for people who are trying to quit smoking.

Ms Duffy added: ‘Removing addictive nicotine from cigarettes, adding health warnings to cigarettes, reducing the visibility and availability of tobacco and related products, implementing evidence-based public health campaigns to motivate people who use tobacco to quit smoking, and providing increased easily accessible person-centred support to those in communities with a high prevalence of tobacco use are just some of the measures that merit strong consideration.’

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘A range of world-leading tobacco control measures have already been introduced in Scotland which are steadily reducing the proportion of people smoking.

‘We remain committed to a tobacco-free Scotland by lowering smoking rates in our communities to 5% or less by 2034. Achieving this ambitious target will allow us to protect children born since 2013 so that when they turn 21 they will be tobacco-free and will come of age in a Scotland that will remain tobacco-free for generations to come.

‘We are considering a range of next steps to reach this target, which will be published as part of our refreshed tobacco action plan in the autumn.’