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School smoking rising again

Numbers of young teenage smokers in Paris doubled between 2007 and 2010

SMOKING is on the rise among teens, reports anti-smoking body Paris Sans Tabac.

The association says the number of collège age youths (12-15) who smoke daily doubled between 2007 and 2010.

In schools in Paris about 5% of the age group smoke every day. The increase among lycéens (16-19) was less, at 15%, but a quarter of the group smoke daily. Girls are now more likely to smoke than boys. The latest annual study by Paris Sans Tabac was done in partnership with the capital’s education authority and its state health insurance body.

A medical lung specialist who authored the study, Prof Bertrand Dautzenberg, said social stigma associated with smoking was declining among the young.

While the situation nationally is not thought to be as bad, public health experts are nonetheless worried. “We are on red alert,” said Prof Albert Hirsch, the vice president of anti-cancer group La Ligue Nationale Contre le Cancer.

He said apart from the ban on smoking in public places in 2008, not enough had been done since a government anti-cancer campaign in 2003 which had lowered young people’s smoking rates.

Among measures taken were a ban on sales to under-16s, an increase in cigarette price and a ban on packs of 10.

According to Prof Dautzenberg not enough funding is put into campaigns aimed at the young. While the rising trend is causing concern, it should nonetheless be balanced against figures from the past when even more youths smoked. A study by French scientists published in 2008 showed there was a decline in daily smoking among 17-year-olds between 2000 and 2005: from 41% to 33%.

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