Smoking ban helped reduce smoking in teens

By June Shannon Policy News   |   28th Aug 2020

Tobacco control legislation has resulted in a dramatic reduction in smoking by 16-year olds

A new Irish study published in the BMJ Open recently shows that tobacco control policies implemented in Ireland have contributed to a dramatic reduction in smoking among 16-year olds in Ireland.

The research suggests that that interventions, which worked for adults, such as higher prices, smoke free workplaces, plain packaging and increased media campaigns also worked for teens too.

In Ireland, smoking among 16-year-old girls fell from 44.9 per cent in 1995 to 13.1 per cent in 2015, and from 36.7 per cent to 13.1 per cent in boys of the same age.

Smoking among 16-year-old girls fell from 44.9 per cent in 1995 to 13.1 per cent in 2015, and from 36.7 per cent to 13.1 per cent in boys of the same age.

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According to the study, while there were no school-specific tobacco control legislation introduced between 1995 and 2015, smoke-free legislation and other policies that could potentially help to reduce adolescent smoking prevalence were introduced since 1995.

These were: a ban on packs of 10 cigarettes at the end of May 2007, the point-of-sale (POS) advertising display ban of tobacco products in 2009, and the inclusion of graphic images on both sides of tobacco packs in 2011.

The research found that the effects of policies differed between boys and girls. For girls, the workplace smoking ban, graphic images on packs, and price increases reduced smoking prevalence by 7.31 per cent, 8.80 per cent and 5.87 per cent respectively.

For boys, estimates for the workplace-smoking ban and the price increase, reduced prevalence by 8.41 and 4.93 per cent respectively, while the introduction of graphic images on tobacco products had an insignificant effect.

"It is the first time anywhere in the world that smoke-free legislation in the workplace has been shown to reduce smoking in school students,"

Professor Luke Clancy, Director General , The TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland

Professor Luke Clancy, Director General of the TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland and one of the authors of the research said, “In those 12 years or so, Ireland made immense strides in the area of tobacco control. We have introduced smoke-free workplaces to the world; we have extended marketing restrictions, improved health warnings, raised taxes, and increased the availability of cessation services. However, it is the first time anywhere in the world that smoke-free legislation in the workplace has been shown to reduce smoking in school students. It is clearly very important that the Government and the people have it established that there are positive outcomes to these measures despite the ongoing efforts of profit-seeking vested interests to continually block health measures when tobacco sales might be affected”

“Our research shows a relative decrease of 65 per cent in the prevalence of smoking in 16-year girls and a 46 per cent relative decline in 16-year old boys in the period under review. These are very positive statistics, however, we must not become complacent, as we are dealing with an addictive product from a highly profitable industry that will use every possible means, through marketing and promotion in new and established media, to market products which addict our children, kill 6,000 of our citizens and leaves hundreds of thousands disabled annually.”

“ While this is to be hugely welcomed, we cannot become too complacent and additional tobacco control measures are needed to further reduce the levels of adult and teenage smoking,"

Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer, The Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “This research conclusively shows that the introduction of strong tobacco control measures, such as the 2004 workplace smoking ban, has not only reduced adult smoking levels but also among teenagers and adolescents who the tobacco industry actively targets in an attempt to create a whole new generation of smokers.

“The ban on smoking in indoor workplace environments in Ireland reduced dangerous levels of second-hand smoking and denormalised that act of smoking, and as this research shows for the first time, it helped to significantly reduce smoking levels among 16-year-olds.”

“While this is to be hugely welcomed, we cannot become too complacent and additional tobacco control measures are needed to further reduce the levels of adult and teenage smoking. The expansion of the workplace smoking ban to outdoor patio and seating areas of cafes, bars, and restaurants will further reduce smoking levels, protect customers and staff from harmful levels of second-hand smoke, and continue to denormalise the act of smoking for younger people.”

 

Full article available: Li S, Keogan S, Clancy L. Does smoke-free legislation work for teens too? A logistic regression analysis of smoking prevalence and gender among 16 years old in Ireland, using the 1995–2015 ESPAD school surveys.

http://bmjopen.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmjopen-2019-032630

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