Taking action on smoking and health
(right) Dr Eileen Crofton, the first director of the Scottish Committee of ASH
It all began on 5th February 1973 as the papers announced “War on smoking” and “New campaign to curb smoking”.
The new Scottish Committee of Action on Smoking and Health was “not out to ban anything”, the charity’s head, Dr Eileen Crofton, told the Evening Times. Her message that “ASH is not an organisation for bashing the cigarette smoker” is one that is still stressed by the charity 40 years on.
Dr Crofton added that her first tasks would include urging hotels, restaurants and cinemas to discourage tobacco use and she would approach transport operators to secure more space for non-smokers.
Two years later two “small victories” related to transport were reported by the Glasgow Herald. ASH in Scotland ensured non-smoking sleeper carriages on trains would no longer be changed to smoking ones at the last minute if a tobacco-using passenger booked a bed. Smokers were also sent to “the back of the bus” in new policy at the Scottish Bus Group, although they rejected calls for all single-deck vehicles to be non-smoking.
Today’s fight is to have hospital grounds smoke-free but it was once a battle to ensure cigarettes were banned inside the buildings. In January 1977, the Evening Times was among those who backed our calls for hospitals to tackle tobacco use. “According to ASH, Scotland’s hospitals are dragging behind in the campaign to ban cigarettes,” said an editorial. “Hospitals clearly have a responsibility to dissuade patients from smoking. They should at least make the effort.”
A few months later, workers at the John Player factory in Glasgow were launching a “safe” cigarette. Who remembers NSM (New Smoking Materials) tobacco substitute? We gave a “cautious welcome” to the initiative “for the sake of the confirmed smoker who, hopefully, will be able to reduce his tar intake”. Tobacco companies have been promising reduced-harm cigarettes for decades but have never produced the goods.
Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
ASH Scotland acknowledges with thanks the support of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Government in developing our website.