Smoking on the rise again – more teenagers are lighting up as experts call for a ban on under-21s

After decades of progress in the fight against smoking, Ireland is losing ground and cigarette smoking among teenagers is on the rise, a new report warns today.

The Royal College of Physicians’ Policy Group report on tobacco calls for raising the minimum age for selling cigarettes from 18 to 21 to regain lost momentum in a country that was first to ban smoking in the workplace.

Prof Des Cox, consultant on respiratory diseases and chair of the group, said: “We will not meet the national goal of reducing smoking to 5 percent by 2025 with the guidelines currently in place.”

He said the Tobacco 21 policy, implemented in parts of the United States, is a simple and effective step towards the tobacco endgame.

“It requires only simple changes to existing legislation and has strong public support.”

He pointed out that most smokers start smoking in their teens, but the age at which they start increases over time.

“The earlier a young person starts smoking, the more likely they are to become dependent and the harder it can be to quit. Tobacco 21 will help delay the onset of tobacco use, thereby reducing the number of smokers.

“In addition to the associations between early use and lifetime smoking, most teenagers report finding it easy to get cigarettes directly from a store or through friends.

“Experimentation with smoking is highest between 15 and 17, but this cohort is likely to have less access to peer networks over 21 who could shop for them. Tobacco 21 provides this important barrier and is critical to increasing the age of initiation of smoking and the associated lifelong adverse health effects.”

This is an opportunity for Ireland to once again be a European and world leader in tobacco control

Every year in Ireland nearly 4,500 people die from smoking and thousands more suffer from smoking-related diseases, including heart and lung diseases, and cancer.

The report highlights the impact of Tobacco Directive 21 in areas like California, where smoking rates among 15-18 year olds have fallen from 10 percent to 2 percent since its introduction in 2016.

In Needham, Massachusetts, smoking rates were halved for the same age group.

Noting “significant public support” for Tobacco 21 in Ireland, she said in a recent public opinion survey that 71 per cent of the population aged 15 and over would support raising the legal selling age for tobacco
until 21

Prof Cox added: “Ireland has been a leader in this area before.

“Innovative policies like smoke-free workplaces in 2004 and standardized packaging in 2018 have been effective, but we need more ambitious action to save lives.

“This is an opportunity for Ireland to once again be a European and global leader in tobacco control.

“Tobacco products kill every second person.

“Tobacco 21 will not change this risk for smokers, but it may reduce the number of people who become addicted to tobacco and are exposed to long-term tobacco harm.”

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/smoking-on-the-rise-again-more-teenage-boys-lighting-up-cigarettes-as-experts-call-for-under-21s-ban-41980883.html Smoking on the rise again – more teenagers are lighting up as experts call for a ban on under-21s

Fry Electronics Team

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