‘Significant’ decline in numbers of children smoking

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The number of children who smoke has fallen “significantly” over the last five years, according to a new report.

A Europe wide WHO survey of schoolchildren reveals that the proportion of 15-year-olds who first smoked at the age of 13 has fallen significantly since 2010.

The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study reveals that the proportion of 15-year-old Europeans who reported having a first cigarette at the age of 13 or younger fell from 24 per cent to 17 per cent between 2009/2010, when the last survey was conducted, and 2013/2014.

The reduction reported among girls - 22 per cent to 13 per cent - was larger than that among boys (26 per cent to 22 per cent).

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said: “Health behaviours and social habits and attitudes acquired in the critical second decade of a young person’s life can carry on into adulthood and affect the entire life-course.”

The WHO report covers 42 countries in Europe and North America. The results were analysed by 340 researchers supported by the International Coordinating Centre at St Andrews University in Scotland and the Data Management Centre at the University of Bergen in Norway.

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