Following the unusual decision at this week's budget not to increase duties on tobacco and cigarettes, Sheila Duffy has (inevitably) protested:
“This is an own goal for the Chancellor. Smoking costs society and at a time of austerity, an increase in duty would help pay for the much needed services to tackle tobacco which continues to kill half of all its long term users."Well yes it might, but I thought the idea was that people cut down, rather than kept smoking at the same rate? The more likely result is that further rises in duty would push Scotland in the direction of Ireland, where high duties and the display ban have combined to produce the 'smuggling capital of Europe'
Sheila prefers to dream that a rise in duty would simultaneously raise money for the Treasury (in Scotland?) and stop people from smoking.
“There is no doubt that we are about to face major public service cuts in Scotland over the next few years, but I would hope the decisions that are to be made are taken carefully."
Yes, we all do!
"Prevention measures that reduce youth smoking uptake and stop-smoking services that help smokers to quit, deliver long-term health dividends and these must be maintained."
Since most officially delivered quit smoking services concern themselves with four-week targets rather than bothering about the long term, I think we can take this with a pinch of salt. Further the major legislation designed to deter youth from smoking, the tobacco display ban, has passed into law despite the lack of an evidence base.
quotes: "The Committee notes that strong views were advanced on both sides of the debate. The Committee also recognises that the evidence base for this proposal is at an early stage and that the international evidence to date is inconclusive." from the stage 1 report of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill.
There is simply no evidence that tobacco control on the scale on which it is now practised, has any beneficial effect on quit rates or long-term health.
Perhaps Ms Duffy would like to explain which departments at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary she would like to dispense with? Her grant last year was just under £1 million, a fraction of the cuts to be imposed on the health budget - but really, it could be far better spent.
(Click picture to enlarge)