Consultation on Tobacco and Smoking

The Scottish Government asked Children’s Parliament to find out children’s views, opinions and ideas on tobacco use to feed into the Tobacco Action Plan, which aims for Scotland to be Tobacco Free by 2034.

I know people at school who vape more because of an older sister or brother. They do it to fit in or to look cool.

Member of Children’s Parliament

Using a children’s human rights-based approach, Children’s Parliament investigated: 

  1. Children’s general perception and understanding of tobacco use. 
  2. Children’s views in relation to age and tobacco use. 
  3. Children’s views on the availability of tobacco products. 
  4. Children’s views on how to reduce the impact of smoking. 

If change happened, it would affect our life and make it better.

Member of Children’s Parliament

Key messages:

Vaping vs. smoking – Both were regularly discussed, with clear distinctions being made. Vaping was seen as the ‘healthy’, ‘cool’ option, preferred by younger people, vs. unhealthy cigarettes, generally used by older generations. 

Cost – The children held mixed views on the cost, some acknowledged that tobacco products were expensive but felt that regardless of price, people would continue to smoke. Other children wanted to ban smoking completely. 

Tobacco sales – The children reflected on where you can access tobacco products. While many discussed how easy products were to find and buy, criminality was also a major theme, with many children linking the sale of tobacco products with serious crime and drug use. 

Mental health/Health – Children described an extensive list of impacts on the body and mind. Children commented that often people who choose to smoke might have mental ill health or other issues. 

Spaces – Regardless of location, the same exterior spaces were regularly mentioned as spaces in which smoking is most common, these included; outside pubs, near shops, centres of towns or cities, and alleyways. 

Choice – Children debated passionately about choice. Some children felt that adults should be allowed to make their own decisions, while others felt that change would only come with changes to the law. 

Hope for a positive future – Children spoke about how a Tobacco-Free Scotland might improve people’s mood, spaces would be more positive for everyone, and the benefit on health would also be visible. 

Change to legislation – Children had loads of ideas for how to achieve a Tobacco-Free Scotland, specifically legislative changes; many of them did still feel that personal choice should be considered as harsher laws might not change the underlying issues. 

The children involved in this process were passionate and open about the opportunity for change. They were excited to hear more from the Scottish Government on the potential changes that could happen for a tobacco-free Scotland for children. 

Read the full report, below:

This consultation was funded by Scottish Government.

Date: 2024
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