Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Youth smoking

I am working on smoking research - hence my obsession with this issue in recent posts - and will post the draft of a longer report on this topic shortly. I have been re-reading W. Kip Viscusi's, Smoke Filled Rooms and checking whether some of his strong conclusions for the US apply here. Its a substantial liberal critique of the 'public health' approach to smoking regulation.

Viscusi emphasises that most people who start smoking do so when young. Adults do not commonly adopt the habit. A paternalistic anti-smoking argument is that young people are not good at making long-term decisions because they have high discount rates and hence are impulsive. Thus there are bans on selling to minors as well as concerted attempts to make young people of the genuinely deadly implications of smoking.

The dramatic decline in youth smoking that has occurred in Victoria in recent years is documented in The Age today and is of interest to me.

Youth smoking rates in Victoria have fallen to their lowest level in more than 20 years. The percentage of 12-to-15-year-olds smoking has fallen from 22% in 1984 to 8% in 2005. Among 16-to-7-year-olds, rates have fallen from more than 30% to around 19%. Rates are almost equal between sexes, debunking the perception that more girls than boys smoke. Overall, 11% of boys aged 12-17 smoke, compared with 12% of girls. The incidence of smoking has decreased and those who do smoke tend to smoke less.

The survey is compiled every 3 years by the Cancer Council Victoria. The survey was carried out in 69 Victorian secondary schools with 4522 participants. Tough laws on selling cigarettes to minors, restricted tobacco advertising and increased bans on smoking in public places have been credited with the declining rates. A more precise analysis of what has brought about this decline is of interest - the Cancer Council seem not as yet to have released their full report.

Meanwhile, I notice that, in South Australia, youth have taken well to bans on smoking in hotels and claim it has reduced their smoking behavior. That's my reaction too but I am a non-smoker - I prefer non-smoking bars because they are just much more pleasant to be in.


Anonymous said...

Harry watch out you might get fired!!

FXH said...

I have a lovely book called "A History of Smoking" by Count Corti. London: G. Harrap, 1931

And there is a good bibliography here:

I'm guessing you were never a smoker Harry?

Never enjoyed the seductive curl of a wispy stream of smoke through the night air?

FXH said...

bugger - html going bung

A History of Smoking

hc said...

FXH, No I smoked for 20 years and was hopelessly addicted. Its the one thing I did in my life I always regretted. I gave up when bronchitis started and have not smoked for 14 years.

Yes I liked the curl of smoke in the air but always hated my dependence on the stuff. I was addicted to smoking a few months after starting and have compassion for those trying to quit.

FXH said...

mmh harry - you've gone up in my estimation.

I have smoked on and off since my early 20's, funnily enough never smoked at all much through my wild teenage years.

I never felt addicted even when smoking up to a pack a day. Not saying that I wasn't to an extent but have always been able to basically give it away when I chose, albiet with headaches and withdrawal symtoms.

Now it's mostly only when I'm out having a drink and I'm a real bludger. I feel guilty about botting off others.

I still enjoy a puff but haven't had one for at least 6 weeks.

Only time I get really antsy for one is with a combination of good coffee, weak sunshine, outside chair and newspaper.