That smoking is a strong risk factor in developing dementia is well established. The risk of developing dementia may be up to 70% higher in current heavy smokers than in non-smokers.
Alas this is not yet well known and, ASH Scotland would contend, not well served in terms of political action.
While Scotland has a very comprehensive dementia strategy, this concentrates on the diagnosis, care and treatment of those who already have dementia. Dementia prevention (which would require a population wide approach) is very much the poor relation.
Work is underway to revise and update the dementia strategy, but we have yet to see any indication that dementia prevention will receive anything like the attention it merits.
It is very welcome then that new guidance from NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) includes clear recommendations on promoting a healthy lifestyle and highlights that stopping smoking is a crucial element of reducing the risk of developing dementia.
ASH Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to follow this example at a national level and develop a dementia prevention strategy, which would sit alongside dementia care and dementia research and together finally represent a comprehensive political response.