Frontier analysis suggests Scotland will meet smoking prevalence target by 2044

A new Frontier study, published today, finds that the Scottish Government will meet its target to reduce smoking prevalence to 5% or below of Scotland’s adult population by 2044. The government’s ambition, set out in the 2013 Tobacco Control Strategy, is to achieve this target, which it describes as creating a ‘tobacco free generation of Scots’, by 2034. Frontier’s analysis, based on long-run trends in smoking prevalence and taking into account current above-inflation excise increases and known policy reforms, suggests that the goal will be met 10 years later than this. Meeting the Scottish Government’s target therefore requires an acceleration in the observed declines in prevalence.

The study, funded by Philip Morris Limited and prepared independently by Frontier, shows that smoking is in long-run decline in Scotland. According to the Scottish Health Survey (which will be used to judge progress against the target), over 30% of Scottish adults smoked in the mid-1990s, compared with just 21% in 2016.

Increasing uptake of e-cigarettes has not – so far at least – reduced smoking rates fast enough to give confidence that the 2034 target will be met. Around 7% of Scottish adults use e-cigarettes. However, there are signs that the growth in vaping is slowing in Scotland.

Achieving 5% prevalence by 2034 rather than 2044 would require around 260,000 more people to quit by 2034 than implied by our central forecast. This would require significant changes, such as a rapid increase in the number of smokers switching to smoke-free alternatives such as e-cigarettes, increased use of NHS Stop Smoking services or finding other new and effective ways to persuade smokers to quit permanently.

Frontier works regularly for the private and public sectors on matters relating to public health and wider public policy.

For more information, please contact Saskia Nett on s.nett@frontier-economics.com, or call +44 (0)20 7031 7000.

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