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Scotland’s CMO told to stop fuelling “unwarranted fears” about smoking and vaping

Campaigners have told Scotland’s chief medical officer to stop fuelling “unwarranted fears” about smoking and vaping after he urged retailers to stop shoppers smoking or vaping in queues outside shops.

Despite acknowledging that there is “no scientific evidence” to suggest that Covid-19 can be spread through smoke or vape drift, Dr Gregor Smith has asked retailers to put up notices warning people not to light up or vape outside shops.

In a memo sent to Scottish trade groups and reported by the Herald [1], Dr Smith said the issue had been raised as a “public concern over and above the fact that many find the passive inhaling of tobacco or vape drift unpleasant.”

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said:

“Most smokers are considerate and use their common sense when lighting up outside shops or in queues. They don’t need more nagging notices telling them how to behave.

“It may be mildly annoying to some people, but not only is there is no evidence linking tobacco smoke or e-cigarette vapour with the spread of Covid-19, there is no evidence that smoking or vaping in the open air poses any significant threat to other people’s health.

“Instead of fuelling unwarranted fears about smokers and vapers, the CMO should focus on tackling a genuine public health issue, the ongoing coronavirus crisis.”

[1] Scottish health chief urges retailers to stop shoppers smoking and vaping in outdoor queues over ‘unproven’ Covid fears (Herald)

Simon Clark

Mission & Vision



Forest’s mission is to protect the interests of adults who choose to smoke or consume tobacco.


Our key aims and objectives are to:

  • counteract the “denormalisation” of smoking, and smokers
  • prevent further restrictions on the purchase and consumption of tobacco
  • establish closer links with other tobacco-friendly groups at home and abroad
  • build support among consumers of tobacco and other similarly threatened groups
  • highlight the increasingly intrusive nature of Big Government in the lives of private individuals