Two Youth Commissioners from East Lothian have joined a pioneering Youth Commission urging all e-cigarettes to be regulated and distributed for medicinal purposes only.
Natalie Forrest, (15), from Dunbar and Robin Bellamy, (13), from Garvald, joined fellow Youth Commissioners across Scotland to call for a ban on all commercial sales of cigarettes, as part of their ground-breaking inquiry exploring young peoples’ perspectives on how a smoke free generation might be achieved by 2034.
Appointed by the Minister for Public Health, Michael Matheson MSP, and supported by Young Scot, the national youth information and citizenship charity, 17 Youth Commissioners carried out extensive research to have their say on a key action in the Scottish Government Tobacco Control Strategy to work towards a smoke free generation by 2034. As a result, the Youth Commission has issued strong recommendations for the changes it believes are required across both health and education in order to make this a reality.
Natalie Forrest said: “The experience of being part of the Scottish Government’s Youth Commission on Smoking Prevention has been unique and incredible. I immensely enjoyed learning and analysing all of the information we had collated. However, I was shocked and saddened to discover the relationship between smoking and social inequalities.
“Therefore, my sole ambition was to focus on strategies to reduce the link and I became determined to find a fair method that would be possible to implement. However, after a lot of thinking, research, and discussion, I realised that there is no method that is completely fair, and that disadvantages are inevitable when trying to create an effective strategy that would make a significant impact on smoking rates.
“I found it difficult to accept raising taxation as a recommendation, despite the fact that its effectiveness and success had been proven. I was very aware that smoking rates were higher in deprived communities and a rise in price could potentially have a detrimental effect on those in poverty. Such a policy would be targeting the most disadvantaged in society and it didn’t seem fair.”