Join campaigners, researchers and policy makers for a day of learning Reply

David Robertson, Partnerships Lead at ASH Scotland, writes about an exciting upcoming event which he is involved in organising.

The Scottish Tobacco-free Alliance (STA) is Scotland’s forum for information exchange, discussion and collaboration on all aspects of tobacco control and health promotion relating to smoking. The STA gives all those working with tobacco related issues a voice to influence the development of policy and practice across Scotland. The advocates in the STA have contributed to a 9% fall in smoking rates since formation in 2001. Please join in and make smoking history.

Over the years, the STA has been used as inspiration for the creation of other voluntary sector-led fora and holds its 14th Annual Learning Day in Stirling on 7 September 2016. The day includes input from the respected STA Research Group, which contains some of the best known names in international tobacco related research. The Annual Learning Day is a good introduction to the tobacco-free movement in Scotland. There will be updates from the Scottish Government, ASH Scotland, local alliance coordinators and Charter supporters and an insightful talk on Big Tobacco by Stewart Brock, contributor to TobaccoTactics which is based at the University of Bath.

Issues to be covered include culture change in our colleges and debt advice services, mobilising communities in the fight against proxy sales and under-age supply of tobacco, the utility of Scotland’s Charter for driving support for child protection, tobacco control in the Netherlands and tackling cessation through improved self-esteem by Prof Christopher Williams, University of Glasgow. The programme is available here.

ASH Scotland, as you would expect, has a clear goal to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in Scotland but STA members from the NHS, local authorities, community organisations, universities and professional representative organisations collaborate to ensure that the whole tobacco-free community of interest can have an input into improving policy and practice. The STA is not simply a platform for sharing information and good practice, the STA has been utilised by ASH Scotland, NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish Government as a sounding board to ensure ideas put forward can work in the real world.

For example, STA members have been consulted on all the major policy changes effecting tobacco control in Scotland. ASH Scotland reported the views of STA members on the smoking cessation guidelines, smoke-free public places legislation, increasing the age of tobacco sale to 18, point of sale legislation and smoke-free health board and local authority grounds.

STA Short-life Working Groups have reported on issues such as smoking and cannabis and maternal smoking, and earlier this year staged its third smoking and mental health summit to help inform the Scottish Government’s new strategy on mental health. STA members from across the statutory and voluntary sectors, with support from the ASH Scotland Engagement Team, are currently working on improving action on a number of issues exercising the healthcare community, particularly those addressing health inequality. For example: how to maintain smoke-free partnership working through the transition to Health and Social Care Partnerships; how to draw those supporting people living in poverty into supporting moves to reduce smoking; and how to improve the response to young smokers in care.

The STA communicates with other important voluntary sector organisations such as Voluntary Health Scotland (VHS) and Community Health Exchange (CHEX) to insure those working across Scotland have access to the influence that the STA and ASH Scotland’s other partnerships can bring. Find out more about the STA by attending the Annual Learning Day on 7 September.

For more information see www.ashscotland.org.uk

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