Smoking rates among children in England fall to record low

Thursday 24 July 2014

Regular smoking among 11-15 year olds in England has fallen to a record low level of 3% – the lowest since the annual survey began in 1982.  Ten years ago (2003), 9% of schoolchildren were regular smokers. [1]  Also, over the past decade, the proportion of young people who have tried smoking has halved from 42% in 2003 to 22% in 2013.  Smoking among 15-year olds has fallen to 8% – well below the Government target of 12% by 2015, set in the Tobacco Control Plan for England published in March 2011.[2]

Commenting on the findings, Deborah Arnott chief executive of health charity ASH said:

“The Government target was to get smoking in 15 year olds down to 12% by 2015 – already by 2013 it’s only two thirds of that amount. What made the difference?  Government action including banning tobacco advertising, putting large health warnings on packs and making all enclosed public places smokefree. But more needs to be done and plain standardised tobacco packs are the obvious next step. Parliament and public back the policy, now the Government must resist pressure from the tobacco industry and its front groups and make it happen. Every day’s delay means hundreds more children start smoking taking the first step towards addiction and premature death. 

She went on to say:“Some people have been worried that electronic cigarettes could be a gateway into smoking for young people. These figures show that has not happened so far. But we need to keep monitoring use in young people, and make sure advertising and promotion of electronic cigarettes doesn’t glamourise their use.”



Notes and Links:

[1] Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2013, Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

[2] Tobacco Control Plan for England, HM Government, March 2011.