Smoking rates plummet as teens quit cigs
TEENAGERS are "fighting back" against big tobacco companies, with only about one-in-eight now lighting up, the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) has said.
Their remarks came ahead of the X-Hale Film Festival, for which young people produced dozens of short movies about cigarette use.
"We know that the tobacco industry needs to target teenagers to replace the smokers who have already died from their addiction or who have quit," said Kevin O'Hagan of the ICS.
"The X-Hale Film Festival gives the next generation the opportunity to fight back and they have certainly done that via the 47 films which have been showcased.
"Currently, 5,500 smokers a year die from tobacco related illnesses. These youth groups have sent a rallying call to their peers and to Government to ensure that their generation won't follow this same path of premature death.
"They want to smoke out big tobacco from this country for good," he added.
In 1998, some 21.2pc of young people were smokers compared to 11.9pc in 2010, data from Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) shows.
There has also been a notable fall in rates of young people who have tried smoking.
In 2002, some 62.1pc of 15 to 17-year-olds had given it a go, compared to 45.7pc in 2010.
In addition, a decline from 60.2pc to 48.9pc was seen between 2002 and 2010 in the percentage of those who had their first cigarette aged 13 or younger.
The ICS said Ireland is on track to have less than 5pc of the population smoking by 2025. X-Hale films highlight the harmful effects of smoking.
Some 43 youth groups showcased their films at Smithfield's Lighthouse Cinema yesterday.
The works can be viewed online (www.cancer.ie/xhale). To date, they have received more than 21,000 views.
"The trend in Ireland around smoking is changing. We are seeing a huge cultural shift into how smoking is treated and how it is perceived," said John McCormack, chief executive of the ICS.