About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) quarterly update on a number of topic areas. Of these topics, the Drugs and Tobacco pages contain new data.

Main points

Drugs – health harm

  • In 2020/21, drug use was recorded in 1.7% (766) of a total of 45,466 maternities in Scotland, approximately the same as in 2019/20, when the percentage was 1.6%.
  • The drugs most commonly recorded as being used during pregnancy were cannabis (9.0 per 1,000 maternities) and opiates/opioids (3.6 per 1,000 maternities). Recorded opiate/opioid use during pregnancy consistently decreased over time from 9.7 per 1,000 maternities in 2011/12 before increasing slightly from 3.3 per 1,000 maternities in 2019/20.
  • In 2020/21, of a total of 45,939 babies born in Scotland, 0.3% (141) were recorded as having been affected by, or having withdrawal symptoms from maternal use of drugs of addiction. This percentage has decreased steadily over time from 0.7% of live births in 2011/12.

Tobacco - smoking attributable deaths & admissions

  • Smoking remains a leading cause of preventable disease and premature death. In 2019 smoking accounted for an estimated 9,275 deaths (300 deaths per 100,000 population) in those aged 35 and over in Scotland.
  • There was a 21% decrease in the rate of smoking attributable deaths in Scotland between 2003 and 2019.
  • In 2019, there were an estimated 54,315 smoking-attributable hospital admissions (1,688 admissions per 100,000 population) in Scotland.
  • The estimated rate of smoking-attributable admissions decreased by 4% between 2008 and 2019.


The Scottish Public Health Observatory (external website) collaboration is led by PHS and includes the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, National Records of Scotland, the Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory.

The aim of the collaboration is to make public health information more accessible, to promote the reduction in inequalities and to inform health improvement in Scotland.

Further information

Data from this publication are available from the publication page on the ScotPHO website (external website).

The next release of this publication will be 28 June 2022.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 13 June 2022
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