Quit plea to local smokers

SCOTLAND’S indoor smoking ban will reach its fifth anniversary in March, writes Bob Burgess.

When it was introduced in March 2006 it was claimed that as many as a fifth of smokers would flout the new legislation making smoking in enclosed indoor public places illegal.

But the threat failed to materialise and the Scottish Government is continuing with its campaign to persuade smokers to quit. This week they urged them to make it a new year resolution.

Holyrood estimates that smoking is linked to 13,500 deaths and many hospital admissions each year, taking up £409million of the country’s health budget.

Last year the government set a target under its HEAT 6 initiative to have eight per cent of smokers in each of Scotland’s health areas quit between March 2008 and March this year.

In the two years to March last year 52,277 people had stopped smoking out of the three-year target of 83,975.

The Borders figure – according to Holyrood’s Smoking Cessation Service Statistics – was 1,323 out of the three-year target of 1,464.

Government experts say that a quarter of Scotland’s adults smoke but that more than half are eager to quit the habit.

Help for smokers wanting to stop in the Borders is available through specialised advisers, general practitioners, pharmacists and occupational health nurses.

This week Scotland’s Public Health Minister Shona Robison commented: “There is a huge range of support available from face-to-face, online, nicotine replacement therapy and group classes.

“Giving up smoking is the biggest single thing anyone can do to improve their health, but they are more likely to succeed if they get help rather than relying on willpower alone.”

Advice can be obtained by calling the Smokeline free on 0800 848 848.

The pro-smoking group Forest says anti-smoking groups shouldn’t get public money to lobby governments. It believes in freedom of choice.