Action on Smoking and Health

Tag Archives: young people


Smoking among schoolchildren at record low, new government figures show

2 November 2017

New data published by NHS Digital today show that smoking among 15 year olds has reached the lowest level on record at 7%. [1] The figures demonstrate that England continues to make good progress towards the government’s ambition of a smokefree generation. As outlined in the Tobacco Control Plan for England, the government has committed to reducing smoking prevalence among 15 year olds to 3% or lower by 2022. [2]

The Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England in 2016 survey found that in 2016 7% of 15 year olds were regular cigarette smokers [1] [3] compared to 8% at the time of the last survey in 2014. [3] This continues the longer-term decline seen since 2006, when 20% of 15 year olds were regular smokers. [5] The rate of child smoking experimentation remains almost static with 19% of 11-15 year olds having smoked at least once. This is slightly up from the 18% recorded in 2014 [4], but much lower than the 39% in 2006. [5]

These declines are the result of a long period of evidence-based tobacco policies including prohibiting advertising, promotion and sponsorship of all tobacco products and making tobacco less affordable which continues to deliver benefits.

Commenting on the findings, ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott said:

This report shows that England continues to head in the right direction when it comes to youth smoking. However, we need to do more to get adult smokers to quit. It is the higher rates of adult smoking in poorer communities that are the main reason for lower life expectancy.  The Tobacco Control Plan must be fully implemented and adequately funded if we are to succeed in tackling the burning injustice that those born poor die on average nine years earlier.”

This marks only the second time the survey has assessed the use of electronic cigarettes among 11-15 year olds. More children (25%) have tried e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes (17%), continuing a pattern which was already established in 2014 when 18% had tried smoking compared to 22% who had tried e-cigarettes. The vast majority of those who tried e-cigarettes had also tried smoking. Among those who had never smoked, e-cigarette experimentation remained very low at 11%, the same as in 2014. This supports the recent findings of a large scale analysis of surveys of the behaviour of 60,000 young people in the UK which gives little credence to the theory that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway to smoking tobacco. [6]

Deborah Arnott added:

“We need to keep monitoring but it’s encouraging that since 2009 the proportion of children aged 15 smoking has fallen year on year. Reassuringly experimentation with electronic cigarettes remains low and doesn’t appear to be leading to regular use.”

ENDS

Notes and links
Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see www.ash.org.uk/about-ash

ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line. For more information contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.

 

References

[1] Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among young people in England 2016. NHS Digital, September 2017. Chapter 2 tables – smoking prevalence. Table 2.3

[2] Towards a smokefree generation: tobacco control plan for England. Department of Health, July 2017. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/towards-a-smoke-free-generation-tobacco-control-plan-for-england

[3] The study defined a regular smoker as smoking at least one cigarette per week

[4] Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among young people in England 2014. NHS Digital, 2015 http://content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB17879

[5] Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among young people in England 2006. NHS Digital, 2007 http://content.digital.nhs.uk/pubs/sdd06fullreport

[6] Bauld L et al Young People’s Use of E-Cigarettes across the United Kingdom: Findings from Five Surveys 2015-2017, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2017, 14, 29 August 2017 http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/14/9/973/pdf

UK’s largest ever analysis of data shows no evidence that e-cigarettes are leading young people into smoking

29 August 2017

UK’s largest ever analysis of data shows no evidence that e-cigarettes are leading young people into smoking

Concerns that use of e-cigarettes by young people in the UK could be leading to smoking are so far not borne out by the evidence, shows a new study published today.

The study, a collaboration between UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Public Health England, Action on Smoking and Health, and the DECIPHer Centre at the University of Cardiff is an analysis of five large-scale surveys conducted in the period 2015-17 involving over 60,000 11-16 year-olds. [1]

The findings show a consistent pattern: most e-cigarette experimentation among young people does not lead to regular use, and levels of regular e-cigarette use in young people who have never smoked remain very low. [2]

Regular (at least weekly) use of e-cigarettes amongst all young people surveyed was 3% or less. This was highly concentrated in those who also smoked tobacco. Among young people who smoke regularly (at least weekly), use of electronic cigarettes ranged from 7% to 38%. [2]. However, among young people who have never smoked, regular use of e-cigarettes was negligible – between 0.1% and 0.5% across the five surveys. [2]

Most studies of e-cigarettes and young people in the UK and elsewhere have looked at experimentation – involving ever or recent use, rather than regular use. Some of these studies have suggested that trying an e-cigarette leads to young people becoming smokers, which is not justified by the evidence.

Professor Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, University of Stirling:

“Recent studies have generated alarming headlines that e-cigarettes are leading to smoking. Our analysis of the latest surveys from all parts of the United Kingdom, involving thousands of teenagers shows clearly that for those teens who don’t smoke, e-cig experimentation is simply not translating into regular use.

 “Our study also shows that smoking rates in young people are continuing to decline. Future studies on this subject need to continue to monitor both experimentation and regular use of e-cigarettes and take into account trends in tobacco use if we are to provide the public with accurate information.”

Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Policy Manager, Public Health England:

 “The findings in this study suggest that in terms of protecting children we are broadly getting the balance right in the UK.  We have a regulatory system that aims to protect children and young people while ensuring adult smokers have access to safer nicotine products that can help them stop smoking. This includes a minimum age of sale, tight restrictions on marketing, and comprehensive quality and safety requirements. We will continue to monitor the trends in e-cigarette use alongside those in smoking.”

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, Action on Smoking and Health:

 “ASH will continue to monitor the potential impact of e-cigarettes on young people, however this study provides reassurance that to date fears that they are a gateway into smoking are just not born out by the facts on the ground. A small proportion of young people do experiment with e-cigs, but this does not appear to be leading to regular vaping or smoking in any numbers, indeed smoking rates in young people are continuing to decline.”

Graham Moore, Deputy Director, DECIPHer:

“Few people would argue that e-cigarette use in young people should be encouraged. However, these surveys consistently show that the rapid growth in experimentation with e-cigarettes among young people throughout the UK has so far not resulted in widespread regular use among non-smokers. Taken alongside our other recent analyses which suggest that among young people who use both e-cigarettes and tobacco, tobacco nearly always comes first, concerns that e-cigarettes are leading large numbers of young people into addiction and tobacco use increasingly seem to be implausible.”

ENDS

 

Notes

Young people are defined as aged from 11-16 in the surveys analysed.

Contributors to the research paper include: Public Health England, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), members of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (The Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling, The Addictions Department at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London) and The Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement at Cardiff University.

Contributors are available for interview. Please contact Stevie Benton from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) on 020 7404 0242

Funding

  • The YTPS was supported by a grant from Cancer Research UK
  • The ASH surveys were supported by grants from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.
  • The School Health Research Network in Wales is a partnership between the DECIPHer at Cardiff University, Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and Cancer Research UK, funded by Health and Care Research Wales via the National Centre for Population Health and Well-being Research.

References

[1] The five surveys are:

  • The Youth Tobacco Policy Survey
  • Schools Health Research Network Wales survey
  • ASH Smokefree GB Youth survey 2016
  • ASH Smokefree GB Youth survey 2017
  • Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey

[2] Bauld L et al Young People’s Use of E-Cigarettes across the United Kingdom: Findings from Five Surveys 2015-2017, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2017, 14, 29 August 2017 http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/14/9/973/pdf

Smoking in cars

Levels of secondhand smoke in cars can be extremely high due to the restricted space in which the smoke is circulated.  August 2018

Smoking in cars

Smoking and Meningococcal Disease

Exposure to tobacco smoke via both active and passive smoking has been shown to increase the risk of developing meningococcal disease.  July 2016

32. Smoking and Meningococcal Disease

Youth access

Regulation Description
United Kingdom
Children and Families Act 2014
(External Web Page)
This Act enables the Government to implement regulations to prohibit the purchasing of tobacco by adults for children (proxy purchasing); and to prohibit the sale of nicotine products (electronic cigarettes) to persons under the age of 18.
The Protection from Tobacco (Sales from Vending Machines (England) Regulations 2010
(External Web Page)
Sales of tobacco from vending machines will be prohibited from 1 October 2011.
The Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc.) Order 2007 In force legislation England and Wales. From 1 October 2007 the minimum age for the purchase of tobacco was raised from 16 to 18.

The Act updates and amends the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991.

Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991
(External Web Page)
In force legislation England, Wales and Scotland only.The Act amended and strengthened the existing Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and the Children and Young Persons Act (Scotland) 1937 regarding the sale of tobacco to minors.

This Act increased the penalties for the sale of tobacco to persons under the age of 16, prohibited the sale of unpackaged cigarettes and made provision for local authorities to undertake enforcement action relating to offences connected to the sale of tobacco.

The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 (Variation of Age Limit for Sale of Tobacco etc. and Consequential Modifications) Order 2007
(External Web Page)
Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010
(External Web Page)
The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010 (Ancillary Provisions) Order 2010 (regs for the above)
(External Web Page)

In force legislation Scotland only.
increase in age of sale to 18.Point of sale display ban, created retail register, gave enforcement officers power to issue FPNs for tobacco sales violations, criminalised proxy purchase and underage purchase
European Union
Recommendation on prevention of smoking and initiatives to improve tobacco control
EU COM(2002) 303 final (Proposal)
(External pdf)
This council recommendation seeks to tighten tobacco control measures with particular emphasis on youth access to tobacco.Amongst the proposals:

  • adult only access to cigarette machines
  • removal of tobacco products from display
  • young people to prove their age prior to purchase
  • banning sales of packets of 10

These recommendations do not call for primary legislation but propose changes to existing legislation such as directives on product regulation and labelling.

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What About Youth – survey consultation

ASH’s response to a consultation on the What About Youth survey.

WAY-ASH-response.pdf

Foster care, adoption and smoking

A joint briefing from ASH and the Fostering Network. Jan. 2016

Foster care, adoption and smoking

Waterpipes (shisha)

This fact sheet focuses primarily on waterpipe use and regulation in the UK.   Oct 2015.

28. Waterpipes (shisha)

Use of electronic cigarettes among young people in Great Britain, 2018

Regular use of electronic cigarettes among young people in Britain is rare and is confined almost entirely to those who currently smoke or have previously smoked.  August 2018.

34. Use of electronic cigarettes among children in Great Britain

Young People and Smoking

Since the late 1990s smoking among 11-15 year olds has been steadily falling after two decades of little change. Children are more likely to smoke if their parents smoke and parental attitude to smoking is also an important factor. March 2018.

02. Young People and Smoking

ASH response to consultation on Smoking Drinking & Drug use survey

ASH response to a HSCIC consultation on the Smoking Drinking & Drug use among young people survey.

SDDconresponse_ASHFINAL.pdf

ASH response to consultation on age of sale for electronic cigarettes

ASH response to a Department of Health consultation on age of sale for electronic cigarettes.

DHconsultation_agesaleNIP150115.pdf

‘You’ve got to be kidding’

A compelling dossier of BAT’s activities in promoting its tobacco products to young people around the globe.

'You've got to be kidding'

 

 

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