Number of young smokers on the decline

Number of young smokers on the decline

The majority of the adult population who smoke, started smoking as an adolescent. If we can prevent young people from starting smoking, they are less likely to smoke in adulthood.

This is why the adolescent years are a good time to build awareness and educate young people about the risks of smoking. If you work in the education sector, you can embed smoking education into the curriculum and make the school environment a place to positively influence the behaviour of people who spend time there.

The Healthy Schools Achievement Program is a free initiative that uses a whole-school approach to behaviour change, providing guidance and support for education settings to become healthier places for students, families and the wider community.

Councils also have a role to play in reducing tobacco-related harm. One activity that has contributed to the decline in smoking prevalence has been councils using test purchase assistants (TPA's) as part of the Cigarette Sales to Minors (CSTM) program to prevent people under 18 from purchasing cigarettes in retail outlets.

In addition, amendments to the Tobacco Act 1987 in April 2015 legislated that smoking be banned on the grounds of, and within four metres of, entrances to schools, childcare centres, kindergartens and preschools.

Reducing tobacco-related harm is one of four focus areas of the Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2019-2023 designed to drive coordinated action across a range of settings. Evidence-based actions that schools and councils can take to reduce tobacco-related harm can be found here.

Recently published results from the 2017 Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD) show a gradual increase in the number of adolescences who have never smoked, since the survey was first conducted in 1984.

Approximately 20,000 Australian secondary students were surveyed with a range of prevalence data collected about student's aged 12-17 who smoke. In 2017, 83% of Australian secondary students stated that they had never smoked, which is higher than in the 2014 (80%) and 2011 (76%) surveys.

If you are wanting to reduce tobacco-related harm for young people, check out the range of information and resources from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and Training and The Critics' Choice.

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