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Teen Smoking Rates Reach New Lows: Survey

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Fuseworks Media
Teen Smoking Rates Reach New Lows: Survey

Wellington, June 11 NZPA - Teen smoking rates have dropped dramatically in the past decade to reach new lows.

Action on Smoking and Health's (ASH's) Year 10 Snapshot Survey for 2008 showed a record 61 percent of year 10 pupils (14 and 15-year-olds) nationwide have never tried smoking, compared with 32 per cent in 1999.

The number of teens who said they smoked daily has dropped to 7 percent from 15.6 percent in 1999, and the number who smoked regularly has dropped to 12 percent from 29 percent in 1999.

The survey found that more girls (8 percent) smoked on a daily basis than boys (6 percent).

The highest regular smoking rate (daily, weekly, or monthly) was the domain of Maori girls, at 22 percent, with Asian girls smoking the least (2 percent).

ASH said while the results were encouraging, the decline in smoking rates between 2006 and 2008 was smaller than the big drop-off between 2003 and 2005 after the introduction of the 2003 Smokefree Environments Act which banned smoking in school grounds, hospitals, workplaces, restaurants and bars.

Researcher Janine Paynter said the impact of the law change was beginning to wear off and new, effective policies would be needed to prevent more teens taking up smoking.

Banning cigarette displays was one option, said ASH director Ben Youdan.

"Getting cigarettes out of the sight of young people (shows) that smoking's not normal."

Ashley Bloomfield, the Health Ministry national director for tobacco control, said it was up to the Government to bring in tighter tobacco controls.

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said she was encouraged by the survey results but would be looking into what could be done to bring the Maori statistics down.

ASH surveyed 31,000 out of 61,000 year 10 pupils.

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