Figures released this week show that progress on reducing the number of smokers across the Borders is stalling.
Across the NHS Borders area, the estimated numbers of smokers rose between 2017/18 and 2018/19, by 38, showing progress on helping people to quit smoking is broadly flat lining.
The number of estimated smokers across Scotland has risen for the first time in seven years, increasing from 806,817 in 2017/18 to 808,829 in 2018/19.
Prior to this, there was a downward trend in the number of smokers across Scotland with the estimated number of smokers falling from over a million in 2012/13.
The trend could be related to spending on smoking cessation campaigns by SNP Ministers, which has been inconsistent over the last seven years, with spending fluctuating between £588,230 in 2015/16 and £55,223 last year.
The annual cost to the Scottish NHS of treating smoking related diseases is estimated to be more than £300 million.
The Scottish Government has a target of a ‘smoke free’ Scotland by 2034, however more action will need to be taken in the form of support, if the target is to be met.
Mrs Hamilton believes tackling the harmful effects of passive smoking and educating young people on the dangers of smoking are crucial to ensuring progress is made.
Rachael Hamilton, Member for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire said:
“The number of smokers continues to flat line, and this is a worrying development, given we have known for decades the dangers that smoking has on the health of ourselves and others.
“The sporadic nature of funding for smoking cessation programmes has meant that progress is stalling and not reducing fast enough.
“Quitting smoking can be hard, but there is support out there and people should consult their doctor for all the options available.
“More needs to be done to prevent people taking up smoking in the first place. Passive smoking around children is extremely dangerous for their lung development, but also makes it appear as if it is socially acceptable.