There’s room to improve on young smokers in Portsmouth

The number of people who start smoking at a young age has dropped in Portsmouth
The number of people who start smoking at a young age has dropped in Portsmouth

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THE number of people who start smoking at a young age has dropped in Portsmouth.

Dr Janet Maxwell, the city’s director of public health, said that in 2012, 73 per cent of those aged 18 and under said they had never smoked.

But when the same age group was asked last year, the number rose to 82 per cent.

Dr Maxwell said: ‘It’s important we share this message with our young people so they don’t feel pressurised to start smoking by friends or peers.

‘It’s imperative we educate young people about the risks of smoking.

‘They’re more susceptible to the physical effects of smoking as their bodies are not yet fully developed – this includes increased risk of lung cancer, increased heart rate and increased risk of developing respiratory conditions.

‘We work very closely with secondary schools and colleges to educate pupils on the risks of smoking.

‘Despite this around one in seven of Year 10 pupils still smoke regularly which means we still have a way to go.’

The figures come from a study done by Public Health England and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, who worked with the University of Portsmouth.

It also shows 14.5 per cent of Portsmouth teens are likely to be occasional or regular smokers.

This is lower than neighbouring Southampton, which is in the 10 highest estimated areas with 15.3 per cent and above the national average of 12.7 per cent.

Dr Liz Twigg from the University of Portsmouth said: ‘We know with some certainty which factors increase the likelihood of young people starting to smoke – ethnicity, social class and parental behaviour all play a role.

‘For the first time we can combine these factors, national surveys of youth smoking data and what we know about local communities to identify areas where young people are likely to have a higher risk of being a smoker.’

- If you are a young person that has a question about smoking then call (023) 9236 9234.