Knowing the authorities in Scotland, either version will be used as a good reason for repeating its annual reminder to smokers that now is as good a time as any to give up.
The Scotsman's version includes a choice quotation from Ms Sheila Duffy:
Chief executive of ASH Scotland Sheila Duffy said: 'Many smokers decide to quit and find it easier than they thought it would be.'This depends on your definition of 'many'. NHS services acknowledge that only 8 per cent of quitters are recorded as successful at 12 months.
A Daily Record story from last month is downbeat about youth smoking rates and smoking rates in deprived areas, and takes the opportunity to attack cuts in tobacco control expenditure in Scotland to £11.4 million. This is a lot of money to spend 'controlling' a legal substance, especially when the results of expenditure result only in an uptake of pharmaceutical smoking cessation products, and complete cessation of smoking in so few cases.
The different stories about whether smoking is going up or down emphasise only that no one really knows what the smoking rates are. Even if it were clear that smoking rates were coming down, it would be no guarantee that people's choices would lead either to greater longevity or improved quality of life.