Campaigners against smoking and poverty have joined together to call for smokers to be given “alternative coping strategies” when quitting cigarettes.
Research by the Poverty Alliance and Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) Scotland found people in poverty are more likely to smoke because they are at greater risk of stress and less likely to have access to alternative coping mechanisms.
Ash Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “We know only too well the harm caused by smoking, and that most people who smoke say that they want to stop.
“But we need to listen to the voices of people affected by smoking, so that health campaigns and support services can be better tailored to the needs, experiences and perceptions of the people affected.
“People who smoke don’t want to be told what to do, but they don’t want the harm and costs that come with smoking either.
“By understanding each other and working together, health and anti-poverty groups will be better placed to learn what really works.”
A report by the two organisations makes a series of recommendations, including doing more than “just calling on people to stop smoking” by supporting them to find alternative coping strategies.
Further recommendations are for more positive messages encouraging smokers to quit, with the “emphasis on supporting people rather than on taking something away”.
The organisations want strategies to tackle smoking and poverty and for better collaboration between health and anti-poverty groups.
Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly added: “People living in poverty face pressures that restricts choices and leaves them feeling little sense of control.
“Whilst a minority of people living in places affected by poverty actually smoke, the health and financial impacts fall disproportionately on them.
“There is a need to recognise that smoking is a burden on people living in poverty, not a support – but in responding to that we need to understand the context in which people are living, and listen to the voices of people living in poverty talking of the valid needs and wishes they are looking to address.”