Date Published: 22 November 2006

BMA backs calls to tackle young Scots' smoking habits

Scotland’s doctors have welcomed the publication of a report that includes recommendations to increase the age for purchase of cigarettes from 16 to 18 and the creation of a licensing scheme for shop keepers who sell tobacco.

The report, Towards a future without tobacco, has been published by an expert working group and makes recommendations to the Scottish Executive on measures that should be introduced to tackle the number of young people smoking in Scotland.

Dr Andrew Buist, deputy chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said:

" Doctors have been calling on the Executive to tackle the youth smoking epidemic in Scotland and we would urge the Health Minister to accept these recommendations in their entirety.

_ The average smoker will lose about 10 years of life because of smoking. Every day, doctors across Scotland witness the devastating effects of smoking on their patients. Many smokers take up the habit at a young age and the majority, by their early 20s, wish they had never started.

_ Smokers find themselves suffering from ill health caused by their addiction to tobacco and many struggle to quit.

_ Smoking causes chronic disease and death and doctors across the country support the creation of a wide ranging strategy that includes taxation, cessation, education and enforcement of the law.

_ The most effective way to address smoking is to do all we can to discourage youngsters from taking up the habit in the first place. "

Earlier this month, the BMA published its election Manifesto Priorities for Health. Many of the findings in the Expert group report are mirrored in the BMA publication including:

  • Enforcing age restrictions for the purchase of cigarettes
  • Introducing a license to sell cigarettes so that those who continue to sell cigarettes to under age children would lose their license
  • Raising the age for purchase of tobacco from 16 to 18.

Source: British Medical Association, UK

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