Sharp rise in smoking among Belgian children

26th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

26 May 2005, BRUSSELS – More young Belgians are taking up smoking, according to the latest figures.

26 May 2005

BRUSSELS – More young Belgians are taking up smoking, according to the latest figures.

Although overall sales of tobacco fell by 7.6 percent last year, a study by the Fondation Rodin and the research and consumer information centre CRIOC shows the number of young smokers is on the rise.

Among 17-year-olds the number of smokers increased from 25 percent in 2003 to 32 percent in 2004, with as many as eight out of 10 of young smokers showing symptoms of nicotine addiction.

Researchers surveyed 2,196 youngsters aged 10 to 17.

They found that between 3 and 5 percent of young people who didn’t smoke intended to start.

According to the study, a person’s age, the type of studies he does and his social environment are the biggest deciding factors as to whether he will take up smoking.

Pupils taking vocational, technical or artistic courses, those from single-parent families or those whose parents smoke are more likely to start.

In 80 percent of cases, a child’s first cigarette is offered by a friend.

The survey found that 13-14-years-old is the danger time for acquiring the habit when the number of smokers doubles, from 7 to 14 percent, and the number of cigarettes smoked triples.

Young people are increasingly addicted to tobacco and underestimate the harmful effects of nicotine on their health. Two out of three young people told researchers that they had tried to give up smoking, but without success.

The Fondation Rodin said the results of the survey show that anti-smoking policy is failing to target the correct age group and their reasons for smoking. It wants to see more campaigns aimed at 10-14-year-olds and more attention paid to the role parents can play in preventing their children smoking.

The foundation also stresses the importance of targeting Belgium’s poorest areas.

The survey will make sober reading for the government which has declared war on tobacco and particularly set out to tackle the problem of young addiction. Last December, for instance, health minister Rudy Demotte introduced a series of measures to make it harder for under-16s to buy tobacco.

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[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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