Don't let your teen even touch a cigarette
Almost a fifth of Grade 8-Grade 11 pupils smoke regularly in South Africa
One puff and you’re hooked.
That’s according to a new international study of over 200,000 people which found that at least three out of five people who try a cigarette become hooked the first time round.
Researchers from the Queen Mary University of London say the study provides strong support for prioritising efforts to reduce cigarette experimentation among adolescents.
“In the development of any addictive behaviour, the move from experimentation to daily practice is an important landmark, as it implies that a recreation activity is turning into a compulsive need.
“We’ve found that the conversion rate from ‘from time-to-time smoker’ to ‘daily smoker’ is surprisingly high, which helps confirm the importance of preventing cigarette experimentation in the first place,” the research states.Local experts say the survey has dire consequences, particularly for young smokers.
Savera Kallideen, head of South Africa’s National Council Against Smoking, said the study’s estimate of three out of five people who experiment are likely to become smokers “is very high and a huge cause for concern given the high rate of experimentation among young people in particular”.
The latest South African Global Youth Tobacco Survey reports that 17% of Grade 8 to Grade11 pupils smoke cigarettes regularly.
“This study reinforces the need to continue with prevention and smoking harm awareness efforts to discourage young people from experimenting with cigarettes to try and reduce the likelihood that they will adopt the habit,” Kallideen added.
The researchers searched the Global Health Data Exchange for relevant surveys that included questions about ever trying a cigarette and ever smoking daily. Data from eight surveys were found from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Researcher Professor Peter Hajek said: “Concerns were expressed that e-cigarettes could be as addictive as conventional cigarettes, but this has not been the case. It is striking that very few non-smokers who try e-cigarettes become daily vapers, while such a large proportion on non-smokers who try conventional cigarettes become daily smokers.”