Scotland - health minister urges smokers to quit..

January 4, 2009 - Minister for Public Health, Shona Robison is urging smokers in Scotland to quit the habit in 2010.

Ms. Robison said giving up smoking was the biggest single thing anyone could do to improve their health. The minister's plea comes as Holyrood (Scottish parliament) is expected to ban tobacco displays in shops and cigarette vending machines later this month. The minister said she hoped the new legislation would help reduce the number of young people smoking.

The Bill also proposes to bring in fixed-penalty notices for retailers who sell cigarettes to under-18s. Banning orders will prevent retailers selling cigarettes if they continually flout the law.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats broadly support the plan but the Tories are opposed, in part because of what they claim is "flimsy evidence" in the link between advertising and youth smoking.

The Scottish Government said more than 60,000 quit attempts were made in 2008-09 and 23,126 people managed to kick the habit. Smoking is responsible for about 13,000 deaths and 35,500 hospital admissions each year, officials said.

Reference: Plea to smokers to quit in 2010, BBC News, 1/3/2010.

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