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Smoking (children and young people)

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This page includes information on children and young people exposed to smoke - either through their own habits or the habits of those around them - including mothers smoking whilst pregnant.

Children and young people smoking

The only information about young people smoking is from the Every Child Matters (ECM) survey, which was carried out in participating primary and secondary schools in Herefordshire in the spring of 2009.  Different questionnaires were used, reflecting what it was appropriate to ask different age groups.  Years 1 to 3 cover early years in primary school, approximately 5 to 8 year olds.  Years 4 to 6 are the top three years in primary school, approximately 8 to 11 year olds.  Years 7 to 10 are the first four years of secondary school, approximately 11 to 15 year olds.

50% of pupils in years 1 to 3 reported that someone smoked in their family.

Children in primary school were asked whether they thought they would smoke when they were older.  The available answer options varied in the questionnaire for pupils in years 1 to 3 and those in years 4 to 6.  While in years 1 to 3 a simple "no", "maybe", "yes" was used, for years 4 to 6 it was "NO!", "no", "maybe", "yes", "YES!".  In order to show results across the whole of the primary age group, the results for years 4 to 6 are shown grouped into three categories.  It is not expected that the greater number of categories for years 4 to 6 will have made a noticeable difference in the proportions selecting "yes" or "no" overall.

Overall, 6% of pupils in years 1 to 3 and 3% in years 4 to 6 thought they would smoke when they were older.  13% in years 1 to 2 and 11% in years 4 to 6 said “maybe”.  Year 1 boys were the most likely to think they would smoke when they were older, with 13% saying “yes”.  The percentage saying yes is then roughly constant for boys at 5% or 6% until year 6, where 1% of boys thought they would smoke.  Amongst girls, there is not such a clear cut pattern with age.

For pupils in years 1 to 3, it is possible to look at whether they think they will smoke when they are older according to whether there are any smokers in their family.  Although the overwhelming answer amongst both groups of pupils is “no”, pupils who live in a family with a smoker are more likely to say “yes” (9%) and “maybe” (17%) than those with no smokers in their family (4% “yes”, 8% “maybe”).

Pupils in years 4 to 10 were asked which of a series of statements about smoking habits described them best.  There were some slight variations in wording between the primary and secondary questionnaires, but these are minor enough that the questions are still comparable.

96% of pupils in years 4 to 6 had never smoked at all; in years 7 to 10 this was 72%.  The figure for years 7 to 10 has seen no change since 2006 (72%).  Up to year 6, the figure stayed more or less constant, followed by a decrease with age from years 7 to 10.  In year 10, 54% of boys and girls said they had never smoked at all.

4% of pupils in years 4 to 6 had tried smoking once or twice.  In years 7 to 10 it was 15% (similar to the 17% seen in 2006).  There was also a rise with age amongst secondary pupils, from 5% of boys and 8% of girls in year 7, to 22% for both boys and girls in year 10.  Less than half a percent of pupils in years 4 to 6 said they smoked regularly.  In secondary pupils, it is 5% (similar to 6% in 2006).  11% of males and 10% of girls in year 10 smoked regularly – around half of these would like to give up.

When considering the number of cigarettes smoked in the week prior to the survey, the numbers are fairly low.  1% of pupils in years 4 to 6 had smoked any cigarettes, compared to 7% in years 7 to 10 (8% in 2006).  In years 7 to 10, 3% had smoked 11 or more cigarettes (4% in 2006).  Older pupils were more likely to have smoked, and to have smoked greater numbers of cigarettes.

You may also be interested in adults' smoking behaviour.

Smoking while pregnant

Smoking in pregnancy has well known detrimental effects for the growth and development of the baby and the health of the mother.  Pregnancy-related health problems associated with smoking include complications during labour and an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, low birth-weight and sudden unexpected death in infancy. Encouraging pregnant women to stop smoking during pregnancy may also help them kick the habit for good, and thus provide health benefits for the mother and reduce exposure to second-hand smoke by the infant. The Government's Tobacco Control Plan contained a national ambition to reduce the rate of smoking throughout pregnancy to 11 per cent or less by the end of 2015. 

In 2016/17 the proportion of mothers in Herefordshire who were smokers when giving birth was 13.8 per cent, above the national ambition of 11 per cent and significantly higher than the proportion nationally (10.7 per cent) and in the West Midlands region (11.8 per cent).  However, it should be noted that there are currently data quality issues surrounding this indicator, which are being addressed by Herefordshire CCG.



 

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Last updated: Thursday, July 19, 2018