Taking action on smoking and health
There are around 887,000 smokers in Scotland. This is calculated by combining the percentage of current adult smokers (aged 16+) from the 2014 Scottish Household Survey (20%) with the National Records of Scotland’s mid-2014 population estimates for Scotland aged 16+ (4,436,318). 10,000 people die from smoking related illness each year, according to the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO). Around 350,000 people would either quit or not take up smoking were the smoking rate to fall from 20% to 12% by 2021.
The Scottish Government’s 2034 target for a tobacco-free Scotland was modelled as part of the 2013 Tobacco Strategy, Creating a Tobacco-Free Generation. In 2021, the predicted smoking rate in the event that Scotland was on-track to reach 5% by 2034 was 12% overall.
NHS Scotland will save between £104 million and £168 million per year thanks to an 8% drop in smoking, according to ScotPHO. As we have previously shown, individual smokers will save around £1,500 per year by quitting. If one fifth of the 350,000 smokers who quit or don’t start by 2021 are in SIMD group 1, the most disadvantaged fifth of people living in Scotland, they will save £105 million per year. In fact, this is likely to be an underestimate. Reaching the 2021 goal requires a 17% drop in smoking among SIMD1 according to Scottish Government modelling. Consequently, a higher percentage of those in the quitting/non-starting group would be in more deprived socio-economic groups.
Additional sickness due to tobacco use is well documented, with estimates of around 8 additional sick days taken per year. For the purposes of this calculation we estimated the number of full-time employed smokers who would quit (or not start) by 2021 – around 139,000 of our 350,000 figure, as 39.6% of Scots are in full-time employment. Note that this is most likely a conservative estimate, as we did not include smokers in part-time employment or the self-employed (due to the difficulty inherent in assessing the time spent at work by these individuals). This gave us a figure of just over 1 million sick days per year.
Similarly, we used this figure to calculate loss of productivity through smoking breaks. Using the methodology detailed in the report “An Economic Analysis of the Cost of Employee Smoking borne by Employers” by Professor Alistair McGuire of the London School of Economics (not available online), we estimated that around 1.5 million days are lost to smoking breaks in Scotland during one year. Again, this is likely a conservative estimate.
Tobacco’s contribution to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, dementia, diabetes and COPD is well known and studied. For further information on tobacco-related disease, please see our briefings or database of tobacco-related research.
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.