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Friday 28th December 2012 | 00:01
SNP press release
The MSP who introduced smoking ban legislation to the Scottish Parliament has said that Scotland can and should continue to lead the way in the fight against smoking.
Following the Scottish Government’s victory at the Supreme Court over Imperial Tobacco’s legal challenge, Stewart Maxwell has urged Public Health Minister Michael Matheson to use legal costs recovered from fighting the display ban court case to further invest in smoking cessation.
A Scottish Government survey last year found that 55% of smokers made an attempt to stop smoking a New Year’s resolution, which Mr Maxwell said should focus everyone’s minds on what more can be done at this time of year.
Mr Maxwell believes that the money recovered from fighting the legal challenge should be earmarked to tackle smoking among young people – who figures show find it much more difficult to give up than those who start at an older age.
In his response, Mr Matheson estimated that around £345,000 was spent on successfully fighting the legal challenges from Imperial Tobacco and Sinclair Collins, and that the Scottish Government is trying to recover as much as possible of this. Mr Matheson accepted that there is a strong case for targeting any monies recovered at the young, where it can have most long-term benefit.
Commenting, Mr Maxwell said:
“At this time of year, as more than half of smokers intend to try and give up in the New Year, we should reflect on just how far Scotland has come in recent years in the battle against tobacco. But we should also consider how we can keep up the momentum.
“After Scotland led the way in introducing the smoking ban in the UK, we increased the smoking age to 18, and the ban on display of tobacco is now to go ahead, after the legal challenge was finally defeated this month.
“The Scottish Government’s success over some of the world’s biggest tobacco companies reflects just how serious Scotland is in becoming a healthy and smoke-free nation.
“Scotland must continue to lead the way on this and I am urging the Scottish Government to recoup these incurred costs, so that even more can be invested in smoking cessation.
“We know that the longer young people smoke, the more put off they are by the idea of trying to give up – but by targeting the resources on the young, we can make the lasting difference that we all want to see.”