Public health policies that combine taxes on tobacco, bans on lighting up in public venues, smoking cessation programs and anti-smoking mass media campaigns to help adults kick their nicotine habit are also effective in reducing smoking among adolescents, according to an Australian study published yesterday.
In the study (subscription required), researchers conducted a series of cross-sectional surveys of a representative sample of students ages 12-17 from 1990 to 2005 designed to assess adolescents' past and recent use of tobacco. This 15-year time period is significant because leading up to 1990, Australia introduced and strengthened a number of tobacco control programs at a national level. Study results showed that smoking prevalence among adolescents surveyed decreased from 22.9 percent in 1990 to 13.3 percent in 2005. According to a release:
There are three reasons why policies designed to reduce adult smoking can also reduce kids’ smoking. First, as adult smoking decreases, young people have a lower tendency to see smoking as an adult activity. Second, many adult smokers are parents: when parents quit, it reduces the likelihood that their kids will start smoking. And third, many anti-smoking programs and policies directly influence adolescents themselves. For example, there is strong evidence that media ads that emphasise the serious health consequences of smoking in an emotional way resonate strongly with young people.
Previously: A conversation about the FDA’s new graphic health warnings for cigarettes, Cigarette ads turn teens on to smoking, Europe launches campaign to get young smokers to stop, Study shows smoking bans decrease kids’ exposure to secondhand smoke and Australia enacts world’s first ban on branded cigarette packaging
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