Tassie teen smoke fad
A SURGE in Tasmanian teen smoking rates coincides with movies and fashion pushing the habit, anti-smoking groups say.
There has been an alarming growth in teenage smoking in Tasmania while the rest of the country continues to butt out, Quit Tasmania says.
A survey by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed 17.2 per cent of Tasmanian teenagers aged between 14 and 19 -- more than one in six -- smoked daily when surveyed last year.
That was up from just 11.4 per cent in 2001.
And it was despite the rest of the country enjoying a drop in teen smoking, from 15.1 to 10.7 per cent.
Boys topped the poll with 17.4 per cent puffing each day, up from 9.4 per cent three years before.
That was also far ahead of the national rate of 9.5 per cent.
Among girls, 16.9 per cent were smoking daily, up from 13.4 per cent.
Nationally the figure was down to 11.9 per cent.
Quit executive director Michael Wilson said while he hoped the figure was a "blip", he feared the resurgence in smoking portrayed in movies and fashion had influenced teenagers.
"I really do fear that the amount of advertising through movies and fashion and the entertainment world is starting to bite," Mr Wilson said.
"It looks like we've slipped back again.
"It's extremely disappointing, especially when our last secondary school survey showed teenage smoking was the lowest it had been."
Figures were still far better than in the 1990s.
Mr Wilson said Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed 27.7 per cent of teenagers were smoking daily in 1994, which dropped to 24.4 per cent in 2001.
He was pleased a decline in adult smoking appeared to have been sustained.
"I think it will be better again in the next survey, we know from the quit lines how many people were influenced by former premier Jim Bacon's announcement he had lung cancer," Mr Wilson said.
Among all Tasmanians 14 and over, 21.5 per cent were daily smokers, similar to the 21 per cent in 2001.
The national rate dropped from 19.5 to 17.4 per cent.
The rate among Tasmanian men was 22 per cent and women 21 per cent.
Ideally Quit would spend more to help young people give up, Mr Wilson said.
Most Tasmanians supported tougher licensing and other smoking controls, the survey showed.
Meanwhile, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Council Tasmania has urged Tasmanians to consider their use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs during Drug Action Week, which starts today.