The Progress of Nations

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More teens smoking in industrialized countries

Copyright© Philip Wolmuth/Panos Pictures
Oblivious to health risks, a teenager smokes in Rotherham, United Kingdom. There are more teenage smokers in industrialized countries now than in 1994, and the increase is higher among girls than boys.

Increasing numbers of 15-year-olds are risking their lives in Europe and North America, where the average percentage of teenagers who smoke every day increased from 12% in 1994 to 16% in 1998 in 20 countries surveyed. Smoking among girls increased in all but one country. Rates more than doubled in Estonia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation and Slovakia. Girls are now smoking at higher rates than boys in almost half of the countries surveyed. Four years ago, this was the case in only five of these countries.

The surveys show that Hungary has the highest teen smoking rates, with a steep 29% of boys and 20% of girls smoking daily. Germany and Austria were the second and third highest, with 23.5% and 23%, respectively, of all teens smoking. In Israel, the percentage of all teens smoking daily more than doubled in four years, increasing from 5.5% in 1994 to 12% in 1998. The percentage of boys alone nearly tripled, from 6% to 17%.

Finland, which reported the largest number of teens smoking daily in 1994, was the only country with an overall decrease four years later. Declining rates among boys were reported in Austria and Northern Ireland.

Who's lighting up?
% of 15-year-olds who report smoking daily

 

Boys

Girls            

1998

(1994) 1998 (1994)

Austria

20

(21) 26 (21)
Belgium

21

(19) 20 (14)
Canada

17

(16) 21 (21)
Czech. Rep

16

(11) 11 (6)
Denmark

15

(10) 21 (17)
Estonia

17

(16) 8 (3)
Finland

19

(25) 20 (19)
France

20

(18) 25 (18)
Germany

22

(16) 25 (19)
Hungary

29

(19) 20 (13)
Israel

17

(6) 7 (5)
Latvia

27

(22) 12 (8)
Lithuania

15

(9) 6 (2)
Norway

18

(16) 21 (15)
Poland

22

(17) 14 (8)
Russian Fed.

20

(13) 14 (5)
Slovakia

20

(13) 10 (3)
Sweden

10

(10) 16 (13)
United Kingdom                       

  N.Ireland

16

(20) 24 (20)

  Scotland

19

(17) 24 (21)
United States

13

(10) 12 (10)

Source: WHO Regional Office for Europe, ‘Health and Health Behaviour among Young People’ Surveys, 1993-1994 and 1997-1998.
 
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