Smoking bans across the UK have cut the number of teenagers starting to smoke by around a fifth.
While previous research had shown that smoke-free legislation had resulted in many improvements in the nation’s health, including reductions in heart attacks, strokes and asthma, little was known about the impact on the smoking habits of adolescents.
However, a new study undertaken by the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling and the Welsh Government suggests a big change in the number of young people starting to smoke, especially girls, with the smoking rate for 15-year-old girls falling from 24 per cent to 19 per cent, and the longer term impact is expected to be greater.
The study, which was published today (Wednesday, February 24) in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, discovered trends in the uptake of smoking amongst teenagers aged 13 and 15 differed substantially before and after the introduction of such legislation.
Dr Vittal Katikireddi, the lead author of the paper, said: “The results demonstrate a fairly big change in the number of young people starting smoking – particularly in girls.
“For 15-year-old girls in England the smoking rate reduced from 24 per cent to 19 per cent after the legislation. Of course, the smoking bans are quite recent; the longer term impact could be even greater.”
The new research demonstrates that comprehensive smoke-free legislation could help prevent future generations from taking up smoking.
The study, entitled ‘Has childhood smoking reduced following smoke-free public places legislation? A segmented regression analysis of cross-sectional UK school-based surveys’, was funded by the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office and Medical Research Council.