Number of 15-year-old Scottish smokers falls by two thirds

From a peak of 29 per cent in 1996 the smoking rate among 15 year olds has dropped to nine percent Pic: shutterstock
From a peak of 29 per cent in 1996 the smoking rate among 15 year olds has dropped to nine percent Pic: shutterstock
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The number of 15-year-olds who smoke regularly has fallen to 9 nine per cent.

From a peak of 29 per cent in 1996, the proportion dropped to just 9 per cent in 2013, according to analysis of the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (Salsus).

Regular smoking has also fallen among 13-year-olds from a peak of 8 per cent in 1998 to 2 per cent in 2013.

Statisticians said the figures appeared to show the impact of health policies including a rise in the age of sale for tobacco from 16 to 18 in 2007 and the introduction of the Tobacco Retailer Register in 2010.

In 1990, 87 per cent of 15-year-old regular smokers had bought cigarettes from a newsagent, tobacconist or sweetshop compared to just 22 per cent in 2013.

READ MORE: Smoking in numbers: Do e-cigarettes help Scots quit?

The survey found pupils who live in deprived areas, receive free school meals or describe their family as being “not well off at all” were more likely to be regular smokers.

Previously, girls have consistently reported higher rates of regular smoking than boys but the gap closed in 2013.

Public health minister Maureen Watt said the figures were “extremely encouraging”.

She said: “I am particularly pleased to see these figures demonstrating the impact of Scottish Government policies in helping to reduce the sale of tobacco to children.

“We have set a ground-breaking target to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034 - defined as having an adult smoking rate of 5 per cent or less. If we are to achieve this, we need to stop children from taking up smoking in the first place.

“While the figures are moving in the right direction there is still work to be done - 9 per cent of 15-year-olds smoking regularly is 9 per cent too many, and it’s concerning that some children mistakenly believe smoking can help them to relax and cope better with life.”

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of health charity Ash Scotland, said: “Most people who smoke started as children but it is clear that taking action to make smoking less attractive and less available to young people is having an effect.

“With cigarettes being put progressively out of sight, out of mind and out of fashion for our teenagers, the goal of a generation of young people growing up free from tobacco is within our grasp.”