Health of Scotland’s population - Smoking


Cigarette smoking is the world's leading cause of preventable poor health and premature death1. In Scotland, tobacco use is associated with over 13,000 deaths (around a quarter of all deaths) and around 56,000 hospital admissions every year2. Although smoking prevalence in Scotland has decreased gradually over time, reducing smoking further remains a priority for improving health in Scotland.

Legislation to prohibit smoking in public places came into effect in late March 2006. The primary intention of the legislation was to reduce the harm from environmental tobacco smoke in the general population and, in particular, among employees exposed to smoke in the course of their work (e.g. bar workers). The legislation might, as an additional consequence, have encouraged some people to give up smoking, though there is no apparent change in the overall trend through that period.

The chart below shows the trend in proportion of adults saying they smoke between 1999 and 2012, with smoking among adults seeing a gradual decline from 30.7% in 1999 to 22.9% in 2012.

Whether respondent smokes by year

Whether respondent smokes by year

View chart data

Source: Scottish Household Survey

The Scottish Government has also established a National Indicator to reduce the percentage of adults who smoke.

1. Koplan J.P. and Mackay J. (2012). Curtailing tobacco use: first we need to know the numbers. The Lancet 380 (9842):629-30.

2. ScotPHO Smoking Ready Reckoner - 2011 Edition. See:

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