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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 11:34 GMT
7m offensive to stub out smoking
Smoking - generic
Smoking kills 13,000 people in Scotland each year
A range of measures designed to help more smokers kick the habit have been unveiled by the Scottish Executive.

The 7m drive forms part of its tobacco control action plan, which aims to cut the number of smoking-related deaths.

The plans include consultation on a ban on smoking in public places, expansion of NHS services and the introduction of a new advertising campaign.

Smoking claims the lives of 13,000 people in Scotland every year.

Deputy Health Minister Tom McCabe announced the measures at Glasgow City Chambers on Tuesday.

Mr McCabe said the plan, entitled A Breath of Fresh Air for Scotland, was geared towards getting smokers to give up through persuasion rather than coercion.

We recognise that many people would prefer to socialise in a smoke-free environment and there is a need to extend personal choice
Tom McCabe
Deputy Health Minister
Mr McCabe said NHS Scotland has produced new television adverts, which will be screened over the next few months, to raise awareness of the dangers of passive smoking.

Creating a healthier Scotland may hinge on a smoking ban in designated public places, the minister said.

"We recognise that many people would prefer to socialise in a smoke-free environment and there is a need to extend personal choice," he said.

"So we will be engaging in a widespread public dialogue on the issue of smoking in public places in order to map out the way ahead.

"Legislation is clearly an option, but so too is an extension of the voluntary approach."

There will be a greater focus on helping smokers who live in more deprived areas to quit.

Public debate

The plan will also see measures to discourage children and young people from smoking in the first place.

The public will be asked for their views on smoking in public places, with the executive sponsoring a major public debate on how to minimise the impact of passive smoking.

First Minister Jack McConnell has already revealed his opposition to an outright ban on smoking in public places, meaning the consultation will not include a proposal to outlaw smoking in pubs and restaurants.

An outright ban on smoking in public places has been ruled out

Chief Medical Officer Mac Armstrong said the level of money the NHS is forced to spend on treating smoking-related illnesses "is staggering".

"My hope is that this action plan will address the problem in the long-term by making people more aware of the damage they're doing themselves," he said.

Lesley Hinds, chair of NHS Scotland, said she hoped the plan will help those youngsters who start smoking with no idea how addictive it is.

She said: "Before they know it, they're hooked and can find it incredibly difficult to stop.

"We need to do much more to discourage young people from ever smoking at all, as well as helping all smokers who want to quit succeed."

Simply treading water with documents such as this report will serve no purpose
Dr John Garner
BMA Scotland
Ash Scotland's Maureen Moore said the executive's funding should safeguard the future of services designed to help smokers kick the habit.

But the British Medical Association (BMA) said the executive's plan does not go far enough.

Dr John Garner, chairman of BMA Scotland, said it failed to tackle the pressing issues and represented "a missed opportunity".

"The arguments against introducing legislation are weak. Twenty years of voluntary measures to restrict smoking in public places have failed," Dr Garner said.

"Non-smokers currently have no choice, in many workplaces and in bars and restaurants they are exposed to tobacco smoke.

"The challenge for the executive is to come forward with a constructive approach to tackle smoking in Scotland.

"Clear action needs to be taken. Simply treading water with documents such as this report will serve no purpose."

BBC Scotland's David Henderson
"Charities say the Scottish Executive isn't doing enough"

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