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Numbers smoking at age 14 has halved – but still too many

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The number of young people smoking at age 14 has halved since 2009 – down from 18% to 9% – according to a recent survey by Trading Standards North West. But there’s still a lot to do to stop the inflow of new smokers as this figure is 50% higher than the national average of 6%.

Over 13,000 young people aged 14 to 17 from across the region took part in the survey about smoking habits, and it provides valuable insight into how behaviours and attitudes have changed since similar research in 2009 and 2007. Apart from the good news about smoking rates at age 14 the survey found that those aged 15 who smoke had fallen by four percentage points (down from 20% in 2009 to 16% in 2011), but again this is substantially above the national average (Smoking, Drinking and Drugs young people survey, NHS Information Centre, 2011).

Overall, the number of 14 to 17 years olds in the North West who said that they hadn’t tried smoking fell compared to 2009 – down from 54% to 46%. Other findings included:

  • The majority of those smoking said they had started when they were aged 13 or 14.
  • A quarter of females indicated that they smoke, which is 8% higher than males.
  • More than a third of 17 year olds claimed to be smokers (36%).
  • The number saying they bought cigarettes with foreign health warnings, or what they thought were fake cigarettes, has decreased

The report was carried out on behalf of local authorities across the North West, and also covered behaviour and attitudes of 14 to 17 years olds in relation to alcohol.

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