Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Worst local areas for teenage smokers revealed by new data

  • Comment

Smoking among 15-year-olds is worst in Brighton and Hove, Richmond upon Thames, Torbay, Blackpool and East Sussex compared with the rest of England, according to new official data.

The new What About Youth? Survey 2014 - which for the first time has revealed which local authorities have the highest prevalence of teenage smokers - found 13% or more of 15 year-olds in these regions smoked on a regular or occasional basis.

Local authorities with the lowest proportion of regular or ocassional smokers in this age group – around 4% – were largely in London, with Birmingham and Sandwell also reporting low prevalence.

The data, provided by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, was collected following a nationwide survey of 120,000 15 year-olds about a range of health issues.

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

Health and Wellbeing of 15 year olds in England: Smoking Prevalence report

In the past, similar national public health surveys have failed to provide robust local findings due to small sample sizes.

However, those behind the new survey have warned the findings may be an underestimate due to the questionnaire having been completed at home, where teenagers are less likely to answer honestly.

Comparing wider regions, the survey showed more young people in the North East reported being regular smokers - 8% - than in any other area and London had the smallest proportion of regular smokers – just 3%.

Meanwhile, the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside had the highest prevalence of teenagers who had ever used e-cigarettes - both around 25% - while just 12% of young people in London reported having tried the device.

“The questions on smoking behaviour in the survey provide data for local authorities to monitor smoking prevalence among young people”

Health and Wellbeing of 15 year olds in England: Smoking Prevalence report

However, London had the highest percentage of young people who had ever used other tobacco products such as a shisha pipe  - 21% - compared to about half that in the North West, around 11%.

The report - Health and Wellbeing of 15 year olds in England: Smoking Prevalence – Findings from the What About Youth? Survey 2014 – noted: “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.”

It added: “The questions on smoking behaviour in the What About Youth survey provide data for local authorities to monitor smoking prevalence among young people, and inform local policy making.”

Full findings from the What About Youth? Survey 2014 – which also looked at diet, use of free time, physical activity, drinking, emotional wellbeing, drugs and bullying - will be published in December.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.