CAMPAIGNERS believe Scotland is in line to miss its tobacco-free targets by more than 16 years if current smoking trends continue.

Figures from Cancer Research UK published today cast doom on Scottish Government targets to reduce the adult smoking rate to a maximum of five per cent by 2034.

The cancer charity claims that if current trends continue, the Scottish Government will not hit its ‘tobacco free generation’ target until after 2050.

The new projections suggest 12 per cent of adults will still smoke by that deadline if there is no change in the expected decline in smoking rates.

This means the smoking rate in Scotland will have to drop almost twice as fast as projected if the 2034 target is to be met, equating to 585,000 fewer smokers in 2034 compared with today.

Marion O’Neill, Cancer Research UK’s head of external affairs in Scotland, said smoking has a “catastrophic” impact on health and particularly affects economically deprived communities.

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She said: “This new analysis suggests that Scotland is not on track to achieve its 2034 smoke-free target which is a concern. Indeed, if the Scottish Government is to achieve this welcome ambition and improve the nation’s health, much more needs to be done to accelerate progress.

“Smoking has a catastrophic impact on health. It’s enormously addictive and difficult to quit so more needs to be done to ensure people know about the support available to give up.

“Smoking also remains more common within poorer communities and the Scottish Government must take the lead to ensure that everyone, including those from disadvantaged groups, know about the help available.”

Ms O’Neill added: “When people access these services, they are around three-times more likely to be successful than going ‘cold turkey’.

"We also know that offering support to smokers who visit hospital works.

"Ensuring this is offered routinely will be vital if Scotland is to become smoke free.

"Quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing cancer compared with ongoing smoking.

"The benefits of a ‘tobacco free generation’ to public health and NHS budgets are unequivocal.”

Figures form the Scottish Health Survey show that in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area 21 per cent of adults smoke cigarettes, two percentage points higher than the national average.

And in 2017, around 1300 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board. In 2018, there were around 940 deaths from lung cancer. Currently, around 4100 people die of lung cancer every year in Scotland.

Cancer Research UK says that for those who live in Scotland’s most deprived communities, which include areas of Glasgow, the target is likely to be reached even later.

Cancer Research UK projections suggest the richest fifth of Scotland’s population could achieve smoke-free in 2034, but the poorest fifth will have not even crossed the 10 per cent mark by 2050.

The charity believes the 2034 target will only be met if the Scottish Government takes a lead to ensure all smokers who visit hospital are routinely offered support to quit. Other measures, including greater awareness, promotion and access to free Quit Your Way smoking cessation services, will also be vital.

The new projections have been released by Cancer Research UK ahead of next month’s No Smoking Day drive on March 11 to encourage people to make a quit attempt.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We welcome the recommendations made by Cancer Research UK which endorses many of our current plans, such as evaluating the tobacco control action plan and providing ongoing smoking cessation support across all healthcare settings.

“Smoking prevalence in Scotland continues to fall and we remain determined to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034.”

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'How could I have done this to myself'

WHEN Jacqueline Lapping was given the devastating news she had cancer just days before Christmas she had one thought – how could I have done this to myself?

The 51-year-old smoked up to 20 cigarettes a day yet it had never occurred to her that she might succumb to the illness.

Jacqueline, a care assistant with a 25-year-old son, said: “When you’re busy, all wrapped up in life, you never think that cancer is going to come knocking.

“I just feel so sorry that I’ve done this to myself and to my family and I would hope that any smokers reading this will get help to stop.

“Having just been told I had cancer in December, I was left wondering if this was my last Christmas.

“It’s devastating.”

After receiving her diagnosis, Jacqueline was referred to the Quit Your Way Stop Smoking Service at the Beatson West Of Scotland Cancer Centre where she was given nicotine patches.

Someone from the service also telephones Jacqueline every week to ask her how she’s getting on. And she has been invited to call the service any time she feels she needs to talk.

It’s now been six weeks since she joined the programme.

Jacqueline’s husband Edward and several members of her close-knit family have also now received help to quit smoking at their pharmacy.

Jacqueline, who lives in Mount Vernon, said: “When I found out I had cancer I knew I had smoked my last cigarette.

“But I was advised to take up the offer of support to increase my chances of success and it’s been really helpful.

“Hopefully young people now are more aware and will know that smoking really bad for you and won’t start.

“If you want a long life, to see your kids grow up, meet your grandkids, then you’ve a better chance if you don’t smoke in the first place.”

Jacqueline’s cancer was discovered after she suffered a bad cold.

The resulting cough didn’t go away and her husband was so worried about her, he visited her GP to make an emergency appointment.

She received her diagnosis on December 19.

She said: “The hospital staff have been amazing and have said that my husband’s insistence that I get a GP appointment saved my life.

"If the cancer had been caught any later, the doctors have told me that they wouldn’t have been able to do anything for me, so I’m lucky to have a chance.

“I’m receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy and, while this might get tough, I do feel like I’m lucky to have been given hope.”