Smoking rate among adolescents dropped significantly

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Young people smoke significantly less

The number of young smokers has declined significantly in the past ten years, according to the results of a current study by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA). Accordingly, the stricter legislation and the intensive prevention campaigns are clearly having an effect.

The Federal Center for Health Education has used a comprehensive study to examine the addictive behavior of young people in Germany. 5,001 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 25 were asked about their alcohol, cannabis and tobacco consumption. Compared to previous surveys, all three areas showed a very positive development, with the figures for tobacco consumption showing the most positive trend. The smoking rate among young people between the ages of 12 and 17 has decreased from 27.5 percent in 2001 to 12.9 percent in 2010.

Reversal of trends in addictive substance use In the so-called “drug affinity study”, the BZgA has regularly recorded the addictive behavior of adolescents and young adults for more than three decades. The development to be recognized is quite gratifying, since apparently "fewer and fewer children and adolescents come into contact with narcotics," said the federal government's drug commissioner, Mechthild Dyckmans (FDP). "This is a sign that the various preventive measures are working," Dyckmans continued. The director of the Federal Center for Health Education, added: "In the past few years, there has been a trend reversal in the use of addictive substances among minors."

Consumption reaches a new low The BZgA director emphasized that the turnaround can also be seen “in the decline in tobacco consumption to a new low”. The smoking rate among 12- to 17-year-olds was only 11.7 percent in 2011, which is an extremely gratifying development compared to the figure of just under 28 percent in 2001. In the same period, the smoking rate among young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 declined from 44.5 percent to 36.8 percent, the BZgA said. At the same time, according to the results of the current survey, the proportion of young people who have never smoked in life has increased significantly. The "non-smoking proportion" among 12 to 17 old adolescents was still 40.5 percent in 2001 and rose to 70.8 percent in 2011. The proportion of young adults (18 to 25 years) increased from 23.1 percent in 2001 to 27.6 percent in 2011.

Successful information campaigns Both the federal drug commissioner and the director of the BZgA attribute the decline in tobacco consumption to extensive preventive measures such as the smoke-free campaign launched in 2003. The increase in tobacco tax has also made it difficult for many young people to afford cigarettes. The stricter legislation, such as the ban on smoking in public buildings, restaurants and discos, also means that adolescents have to deal more intensively with the health risks of nicotine consumption. Overall, the measures were clearly successful. The "positive trends achieved in this way have to be continued so that they will also have an effect later in adulthood," emphasized the director of the BZgA. (fp)

Read on:
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With hypnosis to a non-smoker

Photo credit: Martin Büdenbender /

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