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World No Tobacco Day 2018

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world. Smoking behaviour is typically established during adolescence. Most smokers had their first cigarette, or were already addicted, by the time they turned 18. 

Adolescence is a critical time to prevent tobacco-related harms

The duration and number of cigarettes required to establish nicotine addiction are lower for adolescents than adults, so addiction is established more quickly. Moreover, the younger children are when they first try smoking, the more likely they are to develop an addiction.

It is estimated that 3 in 4 children who smoke in adolescence go on to become daily smokers in adulthood, even if their intention is to quit within a few years.

Previous HBSC research has shown that adolescent tobacco use is related to other risk behaviours and negative health outcomes, including unhealthy dietary patterns, high levels of alcohol consumption, bullying, early sexual initiation, poor self-rated health, low life satisfaction, frequent multiple health complaints and injuries.

Adolescent tobacco use on the decline

Recent data from the HBSC study has shown that tobacco use among adolescents is on the decline: 

  • Between 2010 and 2014, the proportion of young people smoking weekly fell from 18% to 12%.

  • Similarly, the proportion of 15-year-olds who report first smoking age 13 or younger also fell, from 24% in 2010 to 17% in 2014.

Remaining challenges

In general, tobacco use is connected to other complex issues such as poverty, as well as social determinants including education, income, social support systems and social integration. To ensure that all children have equal opportunities to lead healthy, tobacco-free lifestyles, it is essential to address these disparities and recognise the interconnections between tobacco use and other important issues of health and development.

Policies and measures such as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, that reduce the availability of cigarettes, such as age limits for purchasing, bans on advertising, and price increases, are effective in decreasing adolescents’ access to tobacco. Strict enforcement of these policies is key to continued success.

Policy makers must also do more to protect young people from tobacco marketing and the damaging effects of secondhand smoke, especially in environments such as schools, child-care facilities, private homes and cars.

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item 4909
[31-05-2018 to 12-05-2019]


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