PLYMOUTH’S director of public health has branded limiting teenage smoking “a top priority”, after a study found one in eight 15-year-old girls in Plymouth currently smoke. Statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre released earlier this week show just over 13 per cent of 15-year-old girls in the city and 5.6 per cent of boys are smokers. Teenagers are attracted most of all by flavoured little cigars such as Captain Black http://www.mydiscountcigarette.net/buy/captain-black
Alarmingly, the figures also revealed that around 13 per cent of Plymouth 15-year-old do not consider smoking to be dangerous. The new data, published in a report called Health and Wellbeing of 15-year-old in England: Smoking Prevalence, indicated more than a quarter of youngsters from across Plymouth have admitted to smoking at least once before – well above the national averages.
Professor Kelechi Nnoaham, Plymouth’s director of public health, admitted the Council and city-based health organisations face a tough task in limiting teenage smokers.
“Plymouth City Council, as the strategic lead for public health in Plymouth, recognises that reducing smoking rates in the city is one of our top priorities, and we know that we need to start as early as possible.
“There are no sudden solutions to getting young people to stop – rather it is a range of initiatives which are designed to make Plymouth a healthier city and ensure everyone lives long, enjoyable, healthy lives.
“Smoking is one of four lifestyle behaviours – along with excessive drinking, inactivity and unhealthy diet – which lead to 54% of deaths in Plymouth, which is why we’ve launched our Thrive Plymouth scheme to encourage healthier lifestyles.
“We know that if we grow up free from tobacco, drink alcohol in moderation, exercise regularly and watch what we eat – we can make a big difference to our health and live longer, healthier lives.”
The Oxford graduate, who assumed the role of director of public health last year after a successful spell in a similar position in Bristol, did draw some positives from yesterday’s findings.
“According to this survey, the vast majority of young people do not smoke – with over 90% of 15 year old people reporting that they do not smoke.
“This figure is broadly in line with the estimate made by our more extensive school based local survey carried out earlier in the year.
“Research has consistently shown that many smokers start to use tobacco in their early teens so we need to do all we can to help prevent young people taking up smoking in the first place.
“Proposed changes to bring in plain cigarette packaging may help with this but we also need to continue to work with local schools, via our healthcare providers Plymouth Community Healthcare, to work with young people about benefits of growing up free from tobacco.”
Given the rise of e-cigarettes and legal highs in recent years, the study also examined the effect of “other tobacco products”.
While just three per cent of teens polled said they currently use e-cigarettes, more than 15 per cent admitted to smoking them at least once or twice. 11 per cent of 15-year-olds, meanwhile, told the survey they had used alternative products to tobacco.