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More teenagers say “NO” to smoking

7 June 2005

More teenagers say “NO” to smoking: Parents, vital role-models in teenage smoking or never-smoking

Big Tobacco Vs New Zealand teenagers
So who’s winning?

A recent National Survey shows that in the field of tobacco control, New Zealand teenagers are winning by opting not to smoke.

17.6 percent of 14 to 16-year-old New Zealand teenagers said they were smokers in 2004, down from 28.6 percent in 1999; teenagers who are never-smokers increased from 31.6 percent in 1999 to 47 percent in 2004.

21.2 percent of girls (24.9 in 2003) and 13.8 percent of boys (16.4 in 2003) smoked on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, according to the National Year 10 Smoking Survey conducted by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) New Zealand, and monitored by Dr Robert Scragg, School of Population Health, University of Auckland.

Becky Freeman, Director ASH New Zealand says, “We are pleased to find fewer numbers of teenagers taking up smoking. Public health is winning the battle against the tobacco companies who have long portrayed smoking as a cool and grown-up behaviour.

This reduction is linked to the Smokefree Environments Amendment Act 2003 that required the buildings and grounds of schools, and early childhood centres, to become smokefree from January 1, 2004.”

The 2004 survey marks the first time a decline in daily smoking among Maori females has been observed.

“While there is an overall downward trend, the survey found that the gap between the smoking behaviours of Maori & Pacific island students and NZ European students is increasing.

“For example, only 18 percent (15 percent in 2003) of Maori girls said that they were never-smokers, whilst 48.2 percent (41.4 percent in 2003) of NZ European girls were never-smokers,” says Ms Freeman.

Another significant find is that parents play a vital part in their children not taking up smoking. The rate of never smoking amongst Year 10 students was greater amongst students with both parents being non-smokers (57.4%) than in students with both parents being smokers (23.7%).

“The smoking prevalence of students coming from homes where both parents were smokers was 24.8 percent. This amount is nearly halved to 12.8 percent where only one parent smoked, and only 4.6 percent of students who smoked came from homes where neither parent smoked.

“Parents express concerns that there is little they can do to stop their children from taking up smoking. The survey clearly shows that parents do play a major part in teenagers not taking up smoking.

“If you are a parent who is worried about your child taking up smoking, and you smoke, the best thing you could do for your child’s health and wellbeing is to quit smoking. This will drastically reduce the chances of your child taking up smoking,” says Ms Freeman.

In contrast with the trend during 1999-2003, the additional data for 2004 show a significant decline in daily smoking in all District Health Boards (DHBs) except for South Canterbury (where smoking prevalence remained the same). From 1999 to 2004, total smoking prevalence (monthly or more often) has declined, and never smoking has increased, in all DHBs.

The Auckland City District Health Board region has the lowest daily, weekly or monthly smoking rate in the country at 11 percent. The Tairawhiti District Health Board region has the highest daily, weekly or monthly smoking rate in the country at 24.4 percent. The ASH Year 10 survey has been held annually since 1997 and surveys around 30,000 Year 10 students from around New Zealand. This year 31,921 Year 10 students were surveyed.


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