Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The costs of tobacco control action in Scotland

The tobacco control strategy for Scotland has now been published. A smokefree generation by 2034. Current levels of expenditure to be maintained: drop in the ocean of course but still around £22 million a year. 

Click to enlarge. Figures on tobacco control and smoking cessation expenditure obtained from FOI request from the Scottish Government, December 2012
Last week ASH Scotland posted an article entitled 'What has taking action on smoking and health ever achieved?' The post included a graph, and John Watson of ASH Scotland was kind enough to give me the source, which is Figure 4 in here. Their graph shows a decline in smoking following an apparent peak at around 1972, coincidentally (?) the year before the Scottish Committee of Action on Smoking and Health was born.

I have to admit to some surprise at this peak in the early 1970s. I had always understood smoking to have peaked in the previous decade. However the bigger picture can be seen in Figure 3, which goes back to 1948. There is hardly a blip at that point in the early 1970s although this seems to have been when both male and female smoking rates started to fall.

News of the detail of the strategy was just getting out on Monday morning, when I was invited to talk about the comprehensive smoking ban to be rolled out to all hospital grounds by 2015 (presumably without the need for any legislation but I haven't studied it in detail). Regardless of the number of hospitals that have had to reverse their policy of zero tolerance on smoking and reinstal smoking shelters, off Scotland goes to compound everyone else's mistakes with her own.

The link to the interview is here: for the first 40 minutes of the programme, although there are several interjections from other topics. Kaye Adams is no friend of smoking in general but she gave me a fair hearing on this one and even recalled that I am a nonsmoker. (I think it goes offline seven days after the broadcast, which was Monday 25th).

The BBC story on hospital smoking gave the normal line that smoking kills 13,000 in Scotland every year. I pointed out that this figure was unchanged since before the smoking ban came in and that expenditure on smoking cessation and tobacco control had risen from £1m in 1999 to over £20 million today, with very little impact on prevalance.

There is nothing really to say about the Scottish strategy. They want smoke-free hospitals, prisons, foster-homes and in general to push the notion that tobacco is the only thing worth opposing because tobacco manufacturers are all very bad people who want to make everyone sick, and that really is all that life is about. Happy reading.


Lysistrata said...

Good post, but extraordinarily depressing Belinda.

The Antis are so driven that they ignore any science.

This is policy-based evidence at its worst.

Junican said...

I wonder what the total of taxpayers' money spent on and by TC is to date?
And what might be the estimated total spending up to 2034?

Junican said...

One could go further.

If thousands of lives are being saved each year, what is the estimated cost of the additional pension payments annually up to 2034, and what will the cumulative total be?
What is the estimated cost of treating more and more patients with Alzheimer disease?

Etc, etc.

David & Yvonne said...

Apart from the negative effects on health, unfortunately the costs of anti smoking products equal or surpass the costs of smokng.