Smoking prevention: What we need to do


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Amanda Amos1
1University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Abstract

There has been considerable success in reducing youth smoking in the UK over recent years, with smoking prevalence declining in adolescents and young adults. However, there are challenges in maintaining this decline in smoking initiation, particularly as smoking is increasingly concentrated among disadvantaged young people. This presentation will draw on current research to explore some of the key challenges that need to be addressed if we are to achieve a tobacco-free generation.This will include the findings of a recent systematic review on the evidence on effective action to reduce inequalities in youth smoking. It will argue that sustained action at the international, national and local levels is needed to continue to address the social norms around smoking in young people as well as to reduce young people's access to tobacco and cigarettes. These include reducing children's and young people's exposure to positive images of smoking through introducing standardised packaging (including tobacco products) and reducing positive media images (e.g. in films). These need to be supported by mass media and social marketing campaigns, targeted at disadvantaged groups, which continue to de-normalise smoking and maintain awareness about the risks. Decreasing the affordability of cigarettes through tax increases is central to reducing young people's access to cigarettes. However, while under-age sales of cigarettes have declined, many young people still access them through proxy sales and social sources. Thus achieving a tobacco-free generation will also require more radical action including reducing the number of outlets selling cigarettes, as well as policy action outwith tobacco control to address the wider social determinants of inequalities and health.