The Scottish Government has stated it supports the concept of standardised packaging for tobacco products, the first of the home nations to do so.

Announcing plans to make Scotland a “tobacco free nation” by 2034, the government stated it had: “come to the view that standardised packaging has a key role to play in achieving our vision of a tobacco-free generation.”

However, no plans or timescale for the development will be put in place until the UK government and the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies announce the outcome of last year’s public consultation on the issue.

Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said: “We’ve already seen the huge health benefits that followed the ban on smoking in public places. This Government is determined to build on this success, improving health and reducing health inequalities by reducing the number of people smoking.

“Our vision of a tobacco-free generation is about reaping the health, social and economic benefits that a significant reduction in smoking would bring. It would be an achievement of which we could all be proud.

“That’s why strong and decisive action, like standardised packaging and increased education, are the right steps to prevent young people from taking up smoking.”

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest which runs the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, responded:

“We support all reasonable measures, including education, that will discourage children from smoking. Plain packaging is unreasonable because there is no credible evidence that it will have any impact on youth smoking rates.

“There is a real risk that standardised packaging, like excessive taxation, will encourage illicit trade and if that happens those at greatest risk will be children because criminal gangs don’t care who they sell cigarettes to.”

The key actions from the tobacco control strategy:
* Setting 2034 as a target for a tobacco-free Scotland
* Supporting the introduction of standardised packaging
* Investing in education programmes for young people
* Implementing smoke-free hospital grounds by 2015
* Delivering a national marketing campaign on the danger of second-hand smoke
* Setting a target for reducing children’s exposure to second hand smoke.

Other measures include a review of the Scottish Tobacco Retailer Register, which made it illegal for anyone not registered to sell tobacco products. Over 11,000 retailers have registered, and the review will be carried out by 2015.

The bans on the sale of tobacco from automatic vending machines and the display of tobacco and smoking related products in large shops will come into force on April 29, 2013. The ban on the display of tobacco and smoking related products in all other shops will come into force on April 6, 2015.