A first survey among adolescents shows a trend according to which the increase in electronic cigarette consumption at younger ages also translates into an increase in cigarette consumption at these ages:
11.4 per cent of 17-15-year-olds reported having smoked a cigarette in the past month, compared with 10 per cent in a similar survey conducted last year and 11 per cent two years ago.
This is according to data from a survey conducted by the "Initiative for the Elimination of Smoking" among 2,665 respondents, of whom 325 were teenagers. The findings will be presented to the Knesset this morning as part of the deliberations on the International Day for the Prevention of Smoking, which will be marked tomorrow.
When the teenagers were asked what they had smoked in the past month, the leading product was the e-cigarette. Among 14-12 year olds (7.7%), 17-15 (12.2 per cent) and 19-18 (16.2 per cent).
The data also show that e-cigarettes (disposable or reusable) are the most common first smoking product among 17-15-year-olds (41%) and regular cigarettes in second place (37.9%).
Another worrying statistic that emerges from the survey is a decline in the age at which smoking starts: the data indicate that the average age of smoking initiation has declined, and we are witnessing smoking starts already in the 14-10 age group. According to the data, a quarter of the respondents said they started smoking before the age of 10.
The proportion of 17- to 15-year-olds who said they smoke almost every day has doubled over the past four years from 4.4 per cent in 7 to 2019.8 per cent in 2.
Shira Kislev, CEO of the Smoking Eradication Initiative: "In the absence of effective supervision and enforcement, the train of addiction to electronic cigarettes continues to race uninhibited. The decline in the age of first experience and the use of the product by minors reflect a complete loss of control by the Ministry of Health over the locomotive. No less serious, the survey findings reinforce the claim that disposable electronic cigarettes are a wide-ranging gateway that brings children and adolescents into the circle of smokers and turns them into regular nicotine users. To date, no significant steps have been taken by supervisory and enforcement agencies following the hospitalization of the two boys who smoked electronic cigarettes and the death of one of them, in order to curb the spread of the epidemic. In this situation, it will be a matter of time before the next disaster occurs."
Withdrawal because of the government
Prof. Hagai Levin, Chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians: "The vision of a smoke-free Israel is increasingly distancing itself from us. Between 2002 and 2012 there was progress, and since then there has been no progress but a regression, and this has to do with the lack of implementation of the national plan formulated by the Ministry of Health. Incompetence is reflected in the data. We need to adopt strategies to eradicate smoking in the long term, such as a 'smoke-free generation' (selling cigarettes from a certain yearbook) and licensing points of sale."
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