Scotland politics

Further drop in percentage of Scots who smoke

cigarette smoker

The number of Scots who smoke has fallen to one in five of the adult population, according to a Scottish government survey.

The Scottish Household Survey for 2014 found 20% of adults now smoked. It had been 23% since 2011.

The Scottish government and campaigners welcomed the figures as a step towards a "smoke-free Scotland".

But the survey showed far more people smoked in the most deprived communities than in the least deprived.

It showed that 34% of adults in the most deprived communities smoked - a drop from 39% in 2013- while only 9% of those in the least deprived areas smoked.

The results also showed that 22% of men and 19% of women smoked, while 48% of those who were permanently sick or disabled were also smokers.

Government target

And 46% of those who were unemployed and seeking work were current smokers.

The household survey also concluded:

  • 47% of adults now classify themselves as having no religion
  • Private rented sector continues to grow, making 14% of the housing total
  • 21% of women feel "very/bit unsafe" when walking alone in the neighbourhood at night
  • 52% of households reported feeling positive about their household finances in 2014, compared with 48% in 2013
  • 80% of Scottish homes have internet access, with the figure dropping to 69% in the most deprived communities
  • One in 10 Scots adults are not convinced that climate change is a problem or even happening

The survey's overall findings represent the sharpest year-to-year decline in smoking rates since 1999.

The government's target is to cut the numbers of smokers to 5% or less by 2034.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: "Smoking is Scotland's largest cause of preventable ill health and death, killing one in two of its long-term users and the best thing smokers can do is quit.

"These figures are a major boost as we continue towards our goal of a smoke-free Scotland by 2034.

"The figures are also a testament to young people who choose wisely never to start smoking, the willpower of those who manage to get off cigarettes, and the services who help so many Scots to quit each year.

"It's also particularly heartening to see rates falling most notably in Scotland's most deprived communities."

'Significant step'

Sheila Duffy, the chief executive of health charity Ash Scotland, said: "Such a substantial reduction in the smoking rate suggests that fewer young people are taking up smoking and more adult smokers are quitting.

"This is a significant step on the road towards a tobacco-free Scotland and leaves many more people in Scotland in better shape to avoid cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia and the range of other harms caused by tobacco.

"And reducing smoking rates is an effective means of tackling poverty. This survey suggests a 5% reduction in the smoking rate amongst the poorest 20%. That translates into an extra £50m every year in the pockets of the poorest people in our society."

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