News & Comment
Poll: Most Scots think government policies to reduce smoking rates have gone too far or far enough
Sun 17th June, 2018
Most Scots think government policies to reduce smoking rates have gone too far or far enough.
A majority would allow smoking rooms in pubs and clubs and permit designated smoking areas in prisons and hospital grounds.
An overwhelming majority think smoking should be allowed in the home and in private vehicles.
The public also believes the Scottish Government has more pressing concerns than tackling smoking.
The poll of 1,021 adults in Scotland was carried out by Populus for the smokers’ group Forest ahead of the announcement of the Scottish Government's new tobacco control plan which is expected later this month.
- 54 per cent think government policies to reduce smoking rates have gone too far or far enough. Only 37 per cent think they have not gone far enough with nine per cent undecided.
Twelve years after smoking was banned in every pub and club in Scotland:
- Nearly three in five adults (57 per cent) think pubs and private members’ clubs, including working men’s clubs, should be allowed to provide a well-ventilated designated smoking room, with only one in six (16 per cent) opposed to the idea and a quarter (27 per cent) undecided.
With regard to the Scottish Government’s zero tolerance policy on smoking in prisons  and hospital grounds , Populus found that:
- Overall there is support for inmates in Scottish prisons to be permitted to smoke, with two thirds (66 per cent) of respondents agreeing that prisoners should be allowed to smoke in designated smoking areas.
- Over half of all respondents (56 per cent) – and 82 per cent of frequent smokers – believe that NHS hospital trusts should be allowed to provide designated smoking areas in hospital grounds for patients, visitors and staff.
Following calls to extend the smoking ban to social housing , all private vehicles  and some public parks , Populus found that:
- 86 per cent think smoking should be permitted in the home.
- 74 per cent think smoking should be permitted when smokers are alone in their own vehicle.
- 55 per cent think smoking should be allowed in outdoor public parks.
Smoking on stage and film and TV sets is allowed in England but not in Scotland where it was outlawed in 2006. According to the poll:
- 61 per cent of respondents believe that actors should be allowed to smoke on stage in Scotland when smoking is integral to the plot or characterisation, while a third (34 per cent) are opposed to the idea.
Scots believe the Scottish Government has more pressing concerns than tackling smoking. Asked to consider a list of ten priorities for the NHS in Scotland, respondents said investing in new doctors and nurses is the most important priority and tackling smoking is the least important priority.
When it comes to local government priorities in Scotland, tackling smoking was again considered the least important priority, with maintenance of roads and bridges considered the most important.
- While 85 per cent of Scots think that tobacco taxation (which is responsible for between 80 and 90 per cent of the cost of a packet of cigarettes) is too high (44 per cent) or about right (41 per cent), only one in seven respondents (15 per cent) think that tobacco taxation is too low.
- 61 per cent of respondents agreed that existing measures to reduce smoking rates should be subject to a full and independent review to consider their impact on consumers, retailers and public health before the Scottish government proceeds with any further measures to reduce the sale and consumption of tobacco products.
- More respondents think the government treats smokers unfairly than fairly. A third (34 per cent) think smokers are treated unfairly, three in ten (28 per cent) believe they are treated fairly, and four in ten (38 per cent) believe they are treated neither fairly nor unfairly.
- 73 per cent of regular smokers polled believe smokers are treated unfairly by government.
Urging the Scottish Government to “abandon its war on smokers”, Forest director Simon Clark said:
“The Scottish political establishment is clearly out of step with the general public who support fair and reasonable restrictions on where people can smoke, not prohibition.”
He added: “Any further regulations to tackle smoking would be a distraction from other more important issues facing central and local government in Scotland.
“The Scottish Government should listen to public opinion, abandon its war on smokers and focus on education not legislation.”
1. Populus interviewed a random sample of 1,021 adults aged 18+ online in Scotland between May 25 and June 5, 2018. Data tables and exec summary available on request.
2. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk.
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