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Fewer Northland teens now smoke

By Lydia Anderson

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Figures have shown that fewer teens are smoking. Photo/Thinkstock
Figures have shown that fewer teens are smoking. Photo/Thinkstock

Fewer Northland Year 10 students are trying smoking, figures show.

In 2013, more than 75 per cent of 14 to 15-year-old students in the Northland District Health Board area said they were never smokers, up from 63 per cent the year before, Action on Smoking and Health's (ASH) Year 10 smoking survey found.

The number of students who considered themselves regular smokers had dropped from 9.4 per cent to 7.62 per cent. However, slightly more students smoked daily, at 4.85 per cent up from 4.6 per cent.

In March ASH announced a nationwide drop in youth smoking rates, with only 3.2 per cent of pupils in the 14 to 15-year-old age group smoking daily last year, compared to 4.1 per cent in 2012.

Manaia Primary Health Organisation respiratory nurse specialist-educator Sue Armstrong said the results were encouraging, particularly considering Northland's high Maori population.

"We know through statistics a very high percentage of Maori do smoke."

Maori women in particular tended to be smokers and were also usually the main caregivers in families, she said.

For teenagers, the likelihood of them "picking up ciggies" was much higher if their parents smoked.

ASH director Stephanie Erick said while it was great to see youth daily smoking decreasing nationwide, it was important to be mindful of "smoking inequalities" such as Maori daily smoking rates which remained higher at 8.5 per cent, but had dropped from 30.3 per cent in the first survey in 1999.

Quitline chief executive Paula Snowden said Quitline was thrilled to see the continued decline in youth smoking rates in the ASH survey.

Achieving the Government's goal of Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal was a two pronged attack: preventing young people starting smoking and helping addicted smokers to break their addiction, she said.

"The ASH survey tells us we are making great progress in reducing uptake with 14-15 year olds, and Census 2013 tells us that we are also making progress in getting people to quit, with smoking prevalence falling from 20.7 per cent prevalence in 2006 to 15.1 per cent in 2013.

"Today, there are half as many smokers aged 15 to 19 compared to 2006."

She was pleased the decline was seen across all groups. The results highlighted the fact fewer people were starting to smoke and more people were quitting, which was testimony to the effectiveness of the Government's tobacco control policies, she said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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