Official figures show just over one in five of Scottish adults smoke and figures continue to move downwards as more women move away from cigarettes
SMOKING is continuing to decline in the UK, according to the Office of National Statistic although Scotland remains one of the areas of Britain where tobacco consumption is most common.
Part of ONS’s Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, the release on Adult Smoking Habits in Great Britain, 2013, shows that the proportion of the adult population that smokes cigarettes has more than halved over the last 40 years, from 46% in 1974 to 19% in 2013. (In Scotland some 21% of adults are smokers.)
The figures also found that fewer people are taking up smoking and more smokers are stopping than before.
The survey found that it is women who are stubbing out most successfully. The proportion of females in the UK who smoke dropped by 19% to reach the new level of 17% between 2012 and 2013. In comparison there was relatively little change in the figure for men.
The figures also found significant differences in tobacco consumption in different social and demographic groups.
Most smokers are single. Unmarried people are almost twice as likely to be cigarette smokers as people who are married.
Unemployed people, workers in routine and manual occupations and people with relatively low levels of educational qualifications are more likely than others to smoke.
The proportion of the population that smokes has been consistently higher in the 16-24 and 25-34 age groups since the late 1990s, the survey found.
The proportion of people who smoke drops off with age, however.
The lower numbers of tobacco users among older age groups is said to be down to smokers giving up. Quitting can take a number of attempts over several years.
In some of the first independent official figures on vaping the survey found that people who use electronic cigarettes and or vaping equipment and materials are almost exclusively smokers or ex-smokers.
Almost none of those who had never smoked cigarettes were electronic cigarette users.
The Scottish Government wants to reduce smoking to 17% of the population by 2016, with a longer term target of 5% by 2034.
Surveying a 40-year period, the ONS puts the long-term drop in the number of smokers down to public health measures such as the changes to packaging and the smoking ban.
It also notes there is greater encouragement and pressure to stop smoking, through special events and programmes such as No Smoking Day and Stoptober.
And the electronic options and nicotine replacement products weren’t available in the 1970s.
Smoking has also become more expensive in real terms over the period. Tobacco prices have increased at well above the rate of general inflation.