Smoking down among youngsters

Touchline smoking ban
Touchline smoking ban

A survey of smoking among the district’s school children found that 20 per cent had tried cigarettes - but rising numbers of children were choosing not to smoke.

The survey of 3,416 primary and secondary school pupils found that 80 per cent had never tried smoking, compared to 70 per cent when the study was last carried out in 2011.

It also found that four per cent of pupils described themselves as occasional or regular smokers, falling from nine per cent in 2011.

Year five pupils from primary schools and year nine youngsters from secondary schools took part in the Health Related Behaviour Survey.

The study is used by district NHS bosses to collect information about young people’s lifestyles.

Health experts said tobacco use among young people had declined because of new laws on smoking in public places, a ban on tobacco advertising and better education of the dangers of smoking.

Dr Andrew Furber, the district’s director of public health, said: “We’re committed to reducing smoking prevalence across the Wakefield district, so it’s positive to see that more young people are choosing not to smoke.”

In the latest study, just three per cent of year five pupils said they had tried smoking once or twice compared to four per cent in 2011.

The latest figures also showed 12 per cent of year nines had smoked once or twice, falling from 22 per cent in 2011.

Four per cent of year nine pupils smoked occasionally or regularly, according to the 2013 study, compared to nine per cent in 2011.

Coun Pat Garbutt, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for health, said: “One further measure the government could make in ensuring that we continue to see a decline in the number of young people trying cigarettes, would be to introduce plain style packaging.

“Packaging is a key marketing tool for the tobacco industry and can influence children and teenagers to start up smoking.”