Quarter of teens light up

A young smoker. Picture posed by model

A young smoker. Picture posed by model

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ALMOST a quarter of 15 year olds in Wigan have smoked at some point in their lives new figures have revealed.

According to data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, 4.9 per cent of 15-year-olds in the borough classed themselves as regular smokers in 2014 while 24.5 per cent had ever smoked.

The data has been published as part of a new survey, What About YOUth? 2014 (WAY 2014), which collects information about the health and wellbeing of 15 year olds.

The resulting report reads: “Smoking is an addiction that is largely developed in childhood and adolescence, and young people in particular can quickly develop a dependence on nicotine.

“The younger the age of uptake of smoking, the greater the harm because of the association of early uptake with heavier smoking and higher levels of addiction.”

The statistics also show the use of e-cigarettes amongst 15 year olds in the borough with 6 per cent classed as current users and 31.1 per cent saying they had ever used one.

Other tobacco products, such a shisha, proved less popular with only seven per cent saying they had ever used them.

Professor Kate Ardern, director for public health at Wigan Council, said: “The number of adults who smoke across Wigan Borough has been decreasing year on year and any young people who find themselves taking up smoking should be aware of the long-term risks to their health associated with it.

“I would urge any young people to take advantage of the wide range of stop smoking services which can help young people to quit with one-to-one support as they can lessen the potential impact on their health the quicker they can kick their habit.”

The data also shows that girls were more likely than boys to have smoked, with 7.5 per cent of girls classed as current smokers compared to 6.4 per cent of boys and 29.2 per cent of girls having ever smoked compared to 19.9 per cent of boys.

The survey also logs young people’s attitudes towards smoking and shows that 16.3 per cent of respondents agreed that smoking gives people confidence.

To find out more about stop smoking services, visit wigan.gov.uk.