Teenage smoking going up says Julie Burchill: wrong again!

Saturday 03 February 2001


To: Guardian Weekend
From: Clive Bates, ASH
Date: 3rd February 2001


Dear Guardian Weekend

Oops!  Julie Burchill is wrong again. Teenage smoking is not rising, it has actually fallen sharply since 1996 – probably in response to the Chancellor’s steady price increases, and possibly because of the dramatic rise of the mobile phone as a competitor to cigarettes in teenage lives. Her next mistake is to assume that she has something new to say about health campaigns. Do we really need to be told that teenagers do not like to be ordered around by adult authority figures – especially if this insight is presented as cutting-edge Burchill wisdom? Most anti-moking campaigns avoid teenagers and target the three quarters of adult smokers who already want to quit, and aim to help them see it through. The people most energetically pushing campaigns that target kids directly are the tobacco companies, who, with a nudge and a wink, like point out to teenagers that smoking is strictly for grown-ups.

Yours sincerely,

Clive Bates
Action on Smoking and Health
102 Clifton St

London EC2A 4HW


Note to editor:
Teenage smoking statistics: ONS 2000

  Percent weekly smokers
  1996 1999
All age 11-15 13 9
Girls age 15 33 28
Boys age 15 28 21
All age 15 30 25


Mobile phone theory
Tobacco industry anti-smoking programmes