Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

More students stubbing out

Teenage smoking rates in the Western Bay are dropping, new statistics reveal.

A local principal says the few students who are caught lighting-up tend to be from smoking households.

Results from the 2012 national Action on Smoking and Health survey estimated 9.4 per cent of Year 10 high school students in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board region were regular smokers, down from 10.1 per cent in 2011.

However, the number of young teenagers who labelled themselves daily smokers increased slightly - 5.4 per cent of respondents indicated they lit up daily last year, compared to 5.2 per cent in 2011.

Otumoetai College principal Dave Randell said more students were responding well to anti-tobacco health messages.

However, a small number continued to take up the habit.

"One of the biggest influences is the parents. If any youngster here is caught smoking - you talk to them and they say 'mum and dad smoke'."

Often, these students were allowed to smoke at home, making it difficult for schools as they effectively had to impose a "double-standard", Mr Randell said.

The Bay of Plenty Times surveyed five Year 10 students from Tauranga Boys' College and Tauranga Girls' College to see what they thought about smoking and how common it was among people their age. While all knew the health risks associated with tobacco, most had friends or knew of people in their year group who were regular smokers. All the students surveyed said they'd never smoked or tried a cigarette.

Daniel Kilpatrick, 14, said he know lots of people his age who smoked. "I don't think it's good, really, because it ... stuffs up your lungs."

Josh Hunter, 15, agreed with Daniel and said he also knew Year 10 students who smoked. "I think it's pretty bad for you but if you want to do it that's your choice."

Although James Green, 14, said he had friends that smoked, he said the habit ruined people's lives. "It's pretty bad for you and I reckon there's no real point in doing it. It doesn't do anything for you but ruin your life."

Nationally, the survey reveals 4 per cent of year 10 students were daily smokers last year, unchanged from the 2011 survey. However the percentage of regular smokers fell slightly to an estimated 7.7 per cent.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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