Call to ban e-cigarettes, smoking near hospitals

THE sale of electronic cigarettes in shops should be banned and smoking prohibited within 50 metres of hospitals and schools in Scotland, according to a group of young people.

E-cigarettes have become more and more popular. Picture: Getty
E-cigarettes have become more and more popular. Picture: Getty

The Youth Commission on Smoking Prevention, established by the Scottish Government and supported by charity Young Scot, called for all e-cigarettes to be regulated and distributed for medicinal purposes only, with a ban on commercial sales.

As part of its inquiry into how a smoke-free generation might be achieved by 2034, the 17 “youth commissioners” also called for bans on smoking around schools and hospitals as well as in cars, and an increase in the age limit for buying tobacco to 21.

By 2031, they said a ban should also be introduced on selling tobacco to anyone born after 2013.

In Scotland, over 13,000 people die from smoking related diseases every year.

If the Scottish Government’s target of achieving a smoke-free generation is to be realised with less than five per cent of the population actively smoking, then smoking rates must fall from 990,000 in 2014 to 220,000 over the next 20 years.

Danielle Skippins, 17, West Lothian, said: “Smoking is a large issue where I come from so this Youth Commission means a lot to me not just socially but personally as I lost my father to smoking.

“I found it really interesting learning about all the different strategies that government have used in order to combat smoking.

“This means there is plenty of scope for us to push further on this matter.”

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson, said: “The Youth Commission has produced some bold ideas for us to consider – something that is really important as we start to think about what we need to be doing beyond our current five-year plan. Young people are directly affected by smoking – so they must be part of the solution.

“We’ve been clear that our approach is not about prohibition. We do not want to ban smoking or unfairly stigmatise those who do smoke, or who are unable to quit. However, we know that most people who do smoke want to give up and we’re committed to providing the very best services and support we can for those who want to quit.”

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Scotland Chief Executive Sheila Duffy said: “I strongly welcome the active involvement of young people in exploring smoking prevention measures.

“They have clearly put a lot of energy and thought into this process and have launched some exciting suggestions which we will consider seriously.

“As a society we need to shift the way we view tobacco, a lethal addiction that is mainly started in childhood.

“These young people are challenging us to view tobacco and the tobacco industry differently, and I look forward to discussing their recommendations further.”

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “The Youth Commission’s recommendations demonstrate a level of ignorance and intolerance that doesn’t bode well for future generations.

“It’s fine to be concerned about the health risks of tobacco and educate people accordingly, but these proposals go way beyond that. They represent a serious attack on personal choice and individual liberty.

“There is no evidence that e-cigarettes are harmful or provide a gateway to tobacco. Banning their sale to adults for recreational use would deter millions of smokers from switching to an alternative nicotine delivery system.

“Other ideas are either unenforceable or would require a ridiculous amount of legislation and a small army of tobacco control officers to police people’s behaviour.

“From being a nanny state Scotland would become a bully state. What next? Alcohol, junk food, sugary drinks?”