We know where we want to go.
Scotland’s ambition to be tobacco-free by 2034 is welcome, ambitious and achievable. Yet in reducing the smoking rate to the small number of adults who willingly choose to do so, it avoids any charge of prohibition and respects individual freedoms.
The question is how do we get there?
We believe that reducing the attractiveness of tobacco through standardised packaging will reduce the number of young people taking up smoking. Electronic cigarettes have the potential to help some of the established smokers to quit. A new generation is growing up which has never seen tobacco advertising and for whom smoking is increasingly an unusual activity, rather than the social norm it was in their parents’ day. Stop Smoking Services will continue to increase quitters’ chances of success. And price increases will always act as a disincentive to either starting or continuing to smoke.
Is that it? Will more of the same policies which have seen smoking rates halve since the 1970s be enough to take us the rest of the way? Looking at the changes required, in the graph above, we can’t be confident of that.
ASH Scotland’s conference in Edinburgh next month is our response to that challenge.
The speaker line-up and agenda for “Towards a generation free from tobacco: turning the vision into reality” are now finalised. I’m proud to say we can present a unique gathering of international leaders in tobacco and health. I’m confident you won’t get a better chance to hear the latest thinking on the way ahead in tackling the greatest cause of preventable death in our society.
– From Singapore, Prof Jon Berrick and Prof Koong HN will explore the “Tobacco Free Generation” proposal currently under consideration in several countries.
– From Canada, Melodie Tilson will review progress and barriers towards that country achieving tobacco-free status.
– From Belgium, Florence Berteletti will explore the European dimension and whether the EU is friend or foe for health campaigners
– From Denmark the World Health Organisation’s Kristina Mauer-Stender will consider the future of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s first public health treaty.
– From Ireland Prof Luke Clancy will consider the programme which could deliver a tobacco-free Ireland by 2025
– From California Kristin Harms will review successful stop smoking media campaigns
All ably supported by some of our best home-grown talent: Prof Linda Bauld on smoking cessation, Prof Amanda Amos on addressing inequality, Prof Marcus Munafo on smoking and mental health, Prof Gerard Hastings on the tobacco industry and Cllr Jonathan MacShane on how we can help people to help themselves.
The plenary platform is supported by a programme of 20 parallel sessions, each featuring several speakers on themes ranging from youth perceptions of electronic cigarettes and financial incentives for stopping smoking through to engaging hard to reach groups and mass media campaigns.
The full programme is available on ASH Scotland’s website, along with information on booking your place.
We hope to see you there.