Scotland is the third nation in the world to set a target to become tobacco-free – by having less than 5% the population choosing to smoke by 2034.
The aim is part of a new tobacco control strategy, launched to reduce the number of people choosing to smoke.
The strategy supports the introduction of standardised packaging and education programmes to prevent young people from starting to smoke.
Services to help people stop smoking are to be improved and measures to protect people from the harms caused by second-hand smoke are also included in the strategy.
‘Huge health benefits’
Scottish Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson launched the new strategy.
He said: “We’ve already seen the huge health benefits that followed the ban on smoking in public places.
“This Government is determined to build on this success, improving health and reducing health inequalities by reducing the number of people smoking.”
Mattheson said “strong and decisive actions” like introducing standardized packaging is “the right step”.
Other key actions from the tobacco control strategy include:
• Implementing smoke-free hospital grounds by 2015
• Delivering a national marketing campaign on the danger of second-hand smoke
• Setting a target for reducing children’s exposure to second hand smoke.
‘Urgent action needed’
Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “With thousands of children starting to smoke every year and more than a quarter of all cancer deaths in the UK linked to smoking, urgent action is needed to tackle the devastation caused by tobacco.
“We share the Scottish Government’s vision of a Scotland free from tobacco and the commitment to introduce plain packaging is a real step forward in the fight to protect children from tobacco addiction.”
BMA Scottish council joint deputy chair Charles Saunders said: ‘[This] is to be congratulated as a further bold step in the fight against tobacco, and the strategy shows there is still much more to be done.’