Health boost as Birmingham teens snub smoking


Birmingham 15-year-olds are far less likely to be smokers than their counterparts elsewhere in the country, according to major new report.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) What About YOUth survey reveals that:

• 4.4 per cent of Birmingham 15-year-olds are current smokers. This compares favourably to 7 per cent across the Midlands and 8 per cent nationally.

• 3.1 per cent of Birmingham 15-year-olds are regular smokers. This compares favourably to 5 per cent regionally and nationally.

• 1.3 per cent of Birmingham 15-year-olds are occasional smokers. This compares favourably to 2 per cent across the Midlands and 3 per cent nationally.

• 82.5 per cent of Birmingham 15-year-olds have never smoked. This compares favourably to 78 per cent regionally and 76 per cent nationally.

The results are all the more encouraging when set against the fact that Birmingham’s smoking rate for the overall population is higher than the national average, with 19.3 per cent of people currently smoking, compared to 18.4 per cent nationally.

Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, said: “These figures are extremely encouraging and we can be justifiably proud of the fact that so many of our young people are choosing to be non smokers. They’re giving themselves a much greater chance of healthier and wealthier lives.

“But we must not be complacent. The overall smoking rate for Birmingham is still higher than the national average and that has tragic and costly consequences.

“Every year over 4,500 people die in Birmingham from a smoking related disease and smoking is directly linked to the city’s biggest killers: cancer, heart disease and stroke.

“Our Stop Smoking Service can help smokers who want to quit and we’re determined to help more people reject a lifetime of addiction and ill-health.”

The HSCIC report shows that 5 per cent of 15-year-old girls in Birmingham are currently smokers, compared to 4 per cent of boys. That still compares favourably to a national rate of one in 10 15-year-old girls smoking.

Dr Phillips added: “We have to ask why girls are more likely to become smokers than boys. And the challenge in Birmingham and elsewhere is to address that difference. Our aim is to bring these figures down for boys and girls.”