Thursday 21 November 2019

1 in 11 school pupils is a smoker, child health study finds

Smoking is highly addictive. Photo: Saša Prudkov
Smoking is highly addictive. Photo: Saša Prudkov

One in eleven Irish schoolchildren is a smoker, according to a new study.

The HSE research on nearly 10,000 children found 9pc of youngsters aged between 10 and 19 years old report that they are smokers.

Nearly three times as many of the respondents who smoked reported only fair or poor health compared to their counterparts who do not use cigarettes.

Seven pc of child smokers reported poor health compared to just 1pc of non-smokers while 25pc of child smokers reported fair health compared to 10pc of non-smoking youngsters.


Meanwhile, 34pc of the young non-smokers surveyed reported excellent health, contrasting sharply with the figure of only 15pc for smokers.

The HSE researchers said the findings could be helpful in "counteracting positive perceptions often experienced" in relation to the nicotine habit.

"This, combined with providing supports to help children quit, may help achieve Government targets to reduce smoking prevalence", said the authors, led by Dr David Evans.

One issue with youth smoking is the belief among teenagers that they expect to give up before any health damage occurs.

The research surveyed both smoking and non-smoking young people on eight self-reported health complaints.

They were also gauged on two well-being measures and on how they rated their own health - excellent, good, fair or poor.

Overall, 9pc of school-aged children aged over 10 were classed as current smokers down from 12pc in this age group in 2010.

"Whilst the reduction in prevalence is positive, the fact that over half of schoolchildren that smoke were daily smokers, with 29pc smoking over five cigarettes per day is of concern," wrote the authors.

"Even small levels of smoking can lead to addiction."

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