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Publication, Part of

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England 2018 [NS]

National statistics

National Statistics

Part 3: Young people and smoking: the context

This part focuses on the context of young people and cigarette smoking, specifically the circumstances that may influence whether they smoke.

It looks at:

  • Smoking behaviours of families and friends.
  • Exposure to second hand smoke.
  • Pupil and family attitudes to smoking.
  • From what sources pupils' get useful information about smoking.

Where pupils have seen cigarettes on display in shops is also discussed. The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010 led to a staged prohibition of the display of cigarettes and other tobacco products in shops: 

Specifically, the display of tobacco was banned in April 2012 for large shops and the ban was extended to small shops in April 2015.

 


Whether family or friends smoke

Smokers pupils know, by smoking status

Almost all regular and occasional smokers had a friend who smoked, compared with less than half of non-smokers. Regular smokers were also more likely to have a family member who smoked (78%) than non-smokers (64%).

Only 2% of regular smokers and 3% of occasional smokers reported not knowing anyone who smoked, compared with 22% of non-smokers.

 

Smokers pupil lives with, by smoking status

Pupils were more likely to smoke themselves if they lived in a household with other smokers.

The proportion of pupils who smoked increased as the number of smokers in the household increased. 9% of pupils who lived with three or more smokers were regular smokers themselves, compared to only 1% in households with no other smokers.

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Exposure to second hand smoke

In the last year, 60% of pupils reported being exposed to second hand smoke in a home, including both at home or at someone else's home, or in a car.                               

Exposure at home

The proportion of pupils reporting exposure to second hand smoke at home  or someone else's home was 55% in 2018, down from 59% in 2014.  13% were exposed every day or most days, down from 16% in 2014. 

 

Exposure in a car

A ban on smoking in cars with under 18s present was introduced in October 2015.

The proportion of pupils reporting exposure to second hand smoke in a car was 23% in 2018, down from 34% in 2014.  3% were exposed every day or most days, down from 6% in 2014. 

 

Exposure at home, by smoking status

Smokers were far more likely to be exposed to second hand smoke in the home than non-smokers. 44% of regular smokers, and 40% of occasional smokers were exposed on every or most days in the last year, compared to 11% of non-smokers.

 

Exposure in a car, by smoking status

Smokers were also more likely to be exposed to second hand smoke in the car than non-smokers. 17% of regular smokers were exposed on every or most days in the last year, compared to 8% of occasional smokers, and 2% of non-smokers.  

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Attitudes to smoking

These measures include responses from pupils who smoke and whose families know they do, pupils who smoke and who think their families don’t know, and those who don’t smoke.

Perceived family attitudes to smoking over time

75% of pupils reported that their family do or would try and stop them smoking. A further 16% reported that their family do/would try and persuade them to stop. These levels are similar to recent years. 

 

Perceived family attitudes to smoking, by smoking status

Smokers are less likely to have a family that do/would try to stop them smoking, or do/would try and persuade them to stop, than non-smokers; 77% of regular smokers compared to 92% of non-smokers.

 

Pupils’ attitudes towards smoking, by year

24% of pupils reported that it was OK to try a cigarette to see what it was like, and 9% reported that it was OK to smoke once a week.

These are the same levels as 2016, though prior to this there had been a general decline in positive attitudes towards smoking.

 

Pupils’ attitudes towards people of their own age smoking, by age

Younger pupils were less likely to think that it was OK to try smoking to see what it was like; 4% of 11 year olds, compared with 46% of 15 year olds, or that it was OK to smoke once a week; 2% and 17% respectively.

 

Perceptions of how many people of pupil’s age smoke (15 year old's only)

In 2018, current smoking prevalence for 15 year olds was 11%.

42% of 15 year old pupils had an exaggerated perception of how many people of their own age smoked, saying all/most of them, or about half of them.

54% of 15 year old pupils had the more accurate perception that 'only a few' of people of their own age smoked.

Perceptions for pupils of other ages and all pupils can be found in table 3.19.

 

Beliefs about why people their own age smoke

The most common reason given as to why pupils believed others their own age smoke was ‘to look cool in front of friends’ (79%). The next most common reasons were because ‘they were addicted to cigarettes’ (71%), and ‘their friends pressure them into it’ (68%).

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Sources of helpful information about smoking

Sources of helpful information about smoking

Pupils were most likely to cite parents (76%) and teachers (69%) as providing helpful information about smoking.

In relation to different forms of media, the Internet (63%), television (62%), and social media (52%)  were the most popular sources of helpful information.

Some sources, like friends, the Internet and social media became more common as pupils got older (see table 3.23). 

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Where cigarettes are seen on display

Where pupils have seen cigarette packets on display in the last year

In 2010, the law was changed to provide for a phased ban on retailers having tobacco products on open display. Large premises, including supermarkets, were prohibited from displaying tobacco products for sale from April 2012. The ban was extended to all shops from April 2015.

17% of pupils had not seen cigarettes on display at any shop in the last year, up from 14% in 2016 and from 5% in 2012.

Pupils were most likely to have seen cigarettes on display in newsagents/ tobacconists/sweet shops, with 60% having done so in 2018, though this has fallen for the 2nd successive survey since the extension of the ban to all shops.

The proportion for supermarkets and petrol stations did fall in 2016, but have remained similar in 2018, with both still above 50%.

26% reported having seen them on display in another type of shop.

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Last edited: 23 January 2020 3:48 pm