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  • Smoking is now being shunned by students

    Author: AAP

Fewer high school students are taking up smoking, according to the latest snapshot on Australia's smoking behaviours.

It was once a habit taken up by the cool kids at school but smoking is now being shunned by students.

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There's been a drop in the number of high school students taking up the habit, with fewer than a fifth having puffed on a cigarette in 2014 compared to 23 per cent three years earlier.

There's also fewer adults, including pregnant women, smoking regularly and a rise in the number who have quit the fags altogether.

The findings are in a report prepared by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that looks at how the nation is going in working towards reducing the smoking rate to 10 per cent of the population by 2018 under the National Tobacco Strategy.


Regular smoking rates among high school students (weekly) and adults (daily) were found to have dropped by almost a quarter.

The proportion of high school students and young adults aged 18-24 who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes also fell by a fifth.

Cancer Council Australia chief executive Sanchia Aranda said measures including rises in tobacco taxes, plain packaging laws for cigarettes, and bans on smoking in public areas were all deterring young people from smoking.

"It's becoming socially normal for people not to smoke, so it's great for kids," Professor Aranda told AAP.

Similar trends were found among adults, with daily smoking rates declining to 14.5 per cent from 18.9 per cent.

Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, daily smokers fell by seven per cent. However that fall was about half the drop recorded for non-indigenous adults.

"Despite the fact that indigenous smoking rates are improving, they are not improving at the same rate as non-indigenous Australians, so the gap is widening across a number of indicators," AIHW spokesman Tim Beard said.

People from low socio-economic areas also recorded falls in daily smoking rates, but not by as much as those from more wealthy areas.

In terms of quitting, the number of adult smokers who had given up smoking rose to 52 per cent from 47 per cent.

"All the indicators are heading in the right direction," Prof Aranda said.

"But the issue we see is there's a widening disparity in terms of the haves and have nots.

"People at greater disadvantage are stopping smoking but they are not falling at the same rates as people in more advantaged communities."

Prof Aranda said more needed to be done to help indigenous people and those in hard-to-reach communities give up smoking.

"The reality is that two out of three people who smoke will die of a tobacco-related illness," she said.

"So despite our successes it's still the number one public health issue."


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