11% of Young Teens Are Smokers Worldwide

Young people who begin smoking at an earlier age are more likely to develop  long-term nicotine addiction.Young people who begin smoking at an earlier age are more likely to develop  long-term nicotine addiction.

Roughly 11% of youth aged 13 to 15 around the world use tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars, a global survey of students suggests.

Tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of preventable death and serious illness, killing an estimated 6 million people each year, researchers note in the youth tobacco report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most smokers take up the habit in their teens.

For the current study, researchers examined data from surveys of teens in 61 countries conducted from 2012 to 2015. Half of nations had a smoking rate of at least 15% for boys and at least 8% for girls, they found, Reuters reported.

“Smoking has been shown to harm nearly every organ of the body, and science shows that most adult smokers first start smoking during adolescence,” said lead study author Rene Arrazola of the Office on Smoking and Health at the CDC.

“Young people who begin to smoke at an earlier age are more likely than those who start at older ages to develop long-term nicotine addiction,” Arrazola said. “Therefore, efforts to prevent youth tobacco use are critical to prevent another generation of adults who smoke and suffer from smoking-related death and disease.”

Across all of the countries in the study, the lowest prevalence of teen smoking (1.7%) was seen in Sri Lanka. The highest prevalence (35%) was in East Timor.

For boys, the lowest smoking prevalence was 2.9% in Tajikistan and the highest was 61.4% in East Timor. For girls, the lowest rate - 1.6% – was seen in Tajikistan and the highest – 29% - in Bulgaria.

 Half of Smokers Want to Quit

In the majority of countries, at least half of current tobacco smokers said they wanted to quit, the study also found, ranging from 32% in Uruguay to 90% in the Philippines.

“A variety of policies at the country level can influence whether young teens will smoke,” said Dr. Maher Karam-Hage, associate medical director of the tobacco treatment program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Cultural values and norms in their individual countries are most critical, followed by economic factors (prices and taxes), age restrictions and policies such as whether they have clean indoor air (laws) or not.”

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