NHS report recommends minimum cigarette pricing and licence fee to sell tobacco

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Minimum pricing on cigarettes and a licence fee to sell tobacco should be central to a new national tobacco strategy in Scotland, according to a report which is expected to guide the Scottish Government’s strategy in 2018.

The report by NHS Health Scotland and health researchers at Edinburgh University also suggested limits on the number of stores allowed to sell tobacco products in a particular area and incentivising retailers to not sell tobacco.

The report – Tobacco control policy in Scotland: A qualitative study of expert views on successes, challenges and future action – said that adult smoking rates had been static in Scotland since 2013 and that more needed to be done to reduce smoking especially in the most deprived areas.

John McAteer, senior research fellow at the University of Edinburgh and report co-author, said: “Smoking rates are no longer falling; they are at a stand-still. This is a stark reminder of how much still needs to be done to tackle smoking.

“Our study indicates what experts in the field think are the key areas that the Scottish Government should focus future tobacco control policy actions upon, in order to build on the successes of the 2013-2017 strategy.”

Smokers have reacted angrily to the report’s findings.

Simon Clark, director of smokers’ pressure group Forest, said: “Making tobacco even more expensive would discriminate against those who are less well off. It will also fuel illicit trade by encouraging more smokers to buy tobacco illegally.

“Spending money on mass media campaigns or incentivising retailers not to sell tobacco would be gross misuse of public funds.”