Scotland

Scottish child smoking rates down by two thirds

Smoker Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The Scottish government has a target of creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034

The number of children who smoke has fallen, according to Scottish government figures.

New statistics show that the number of 15-year-olds who smoke regularly has dropped by more than two thirds in the past two decades.

In 1996, 29% of 15-year-olds in Scotland smoked regularly, but by 2013 the figure was down to 9%.

The Scottish government has a target of creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034.

The figures were gathered from the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey plus a series of earlier surveys.

They showed that after the Scottish government increased the cigarette sales age from 16 to 18 in 2007 and introduced the Tobacco Retail Register three years later, there was a decline in the numbers of children buying cigarettes.

Previously, the survey found that more girls smoked than boys, but now there is no difference between the sexes.

Children who lived in deprived areas, received school meals or had a parent who smoked were more likely to use tobacco, the survey found.

Minister for public health Maureen Watt said: "It is extremely encouraging to see that the number of children who smoke has decreased so significantly in the last few years.

"I am particularly pleased to see these figures demonstrating the impact of Scottish government policies in helping to reduce the sale of tobacco to children."

The minister said a target had been set to create a "tobacco-free" generation by 2034, but to achieve that children had to be stopped from taking up smoking in the first place.

She added: "It's well established that the majority of smokers start their habit before they reach 18, so if we can stop people from taking it up in the first place they are far less likely to smoke later on, and are more likely to live longer and healthier lives."

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