COMMUNITY chiefs in Argyll and Bute are to push for a new anti-tobacco strategy already in use elsewhere in Scotland.

One in six people aged 16 and over in Argyll and Bute are smokers, a meeting of the area’s community planning partnership (CPP) heard last week.

The area has a one in six smoking prevalence for people aged 16 and over, a meeting of the area’s community planning partnership (CPP) heard last week.

Laura Stephenson, of the Argyll and Bute health and social care partnership (HSCP), also revealed other facts on the cost of smoking.

Ms Stephenson works as the smoking cessation co-ordinator with NHS Highland, which runs the HSCP together with the council.

Ms Stephenson told members of the CPP: “We don’t have a tobacco policy in Argyll and Bute, so we are asking to adopt this policy which is in use by NHS Highland.

“Tobacco is the most preventable cause of ill health and premature mortality in Scotland. It kills two out of three long-term smokers and has a huge impact on the economy.

“The estimated societal cost of smoking in Scotland is £1.1bn. That is on top of health services, abstention training, fire services and other factors.

“It causes 10,000 deaths, and 128,000 hospital admissions, per year. In NHS Highland those figures are 592 and 7,589 respectively.

“It costs NHS Highland £19-30m out of a total of £300-500m.

“Argyll and Bute has a 17 per cent smoking prevalence for people aged 16 and over.

“Although it is comparatively low, parts of the area are considerably higher, especially poorer and marginalised communities.

“It is fantastic to see that the area’s figure has dropped since 2003, and the reasons are the services that are being provided, legislation, policy development and awareness campaigns.

“But we need to continue to work towards reducing this prevalence, and we have some challenges in doing so. Last year we had a 40 per cent reduction in the uptake of services.

“We aim to have education in schools, good workplace policies.

“We need to close the gap between the most deprived and the least deprived.”

Ms Stephenson also said that some areas, such as play areas and school grounds, could be made smoke-free, along with family events held in Argyll and Bute.

According to statistics which were compiled in March 2017 by anti-smoking charity ASH Scotland, slightly more than one in five adults in Scotland – 21 per cent, to be precise – are smokers.