Latest findings show that secondary school children avoid tobacco cigarettes whereas it was once very popular. . This mirrors the drop in adult smoking numbers. Here in England, smoking rates amongst adults are the lowest that they’ve been since such records were first implemented. While it is certainly great news, this confirmation of fewer teens smoking contradicts opinions about vaping and cheap flavoured e liquids being a gateway to tobacco smoking.

 Back in 1996, a survey found that 49% of children of secondary school age had tried or regularly smoked tobacco cigarettes. This survey has periodically been re-run and the results updated accordingly. In 2016 19% of children were smoking or had tried smoking. This year the number has dropped to 16%. This number is significant as it debunks the myth that the rise in vaping popularity would “without a doubt” increase the number of children smoking, with e cigarettes and e liquid supposedly acting as a gateway to tobacco.

Why Do School-Age Children Avoid Tobacco Cigarettes

There are several reasons that children today are rejecting tobacco cigarettes. A large proportion of the credit for this drop must go to those who work on the public health campaigns surrounding smoking. Public Health England spearheads these campaigns and they are very well delivered. The overall attitude towards smoking in the UK is significantly less favourable than it was in the past. 

The Go Smoke Free ban of 2007 made smoking in numerous public places illegal. This meant an end to smoking in the pub or a cafe, on public smoking, in public buildings, in work and more. Additional restrictions were put into place more recently which has also made it illegal to smoke in a car with a minor present. 

Smoking has altogether got a bad reputation. Children are much more aware of the dangers of smoking and in more detail than previous generations ever did. 

The cost of cigarettes may also have something to do with falling teen smoking rates. With a packet of twenty cigarettes cost ten pounds or more in the UK and prices continuing to rise, smoking is harder for teens to access. Zero tolerance or shops or individuals selling cigarettes to minors or buying them for them will also have had an effect on access. The survey in question showed that where 46% of children managed to buy tobacco products for themselves in 2014, only 23% could successfully do this is 2018. These statistics came from NHS Digital.

Children Avoid Tobacco Cigarettes: What About Vaping

Vaping is much more widely accepted in the UK as compared to other countries around the world. That said, there are still those with concerns that vaping leads children and teenagers into a harmful tobacco smoking habit. Regular e cigarette usage amongst teens/secondary school-age children was in 2018 6%, significantly less than tobacco smoking numbers. 

The Chief Executive of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) has stated that vaping has not become the “super-cool” entity that it appears to have in the USA. She also concluded that vaping rates in this age group have not increased and those trying e cigarettes tended to have already smoked, either regularly or occasionally. 

The bold claims about teenagers being led to smoking by vaping are simply not true.

Children Avoid Tobacco Cigarettes: In Conclusion

Children are walking away from tobacco cigarettes, that can’t be denied. The reasons for this vary but one thing is for sure. We can hopefully now put to rest the concerns that the media and many others seem to have about vaping pushing children into vaping. Indeed, it could be said that tobacco smoking is encouraging children to vape. 

As for those still smoking, adults and otherwise. Hopefully, the Public Health England position of the use of e cigarettes and vaping as a whole as a cessation device will help those struggling to give up altogether.

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