While a youth health report shows marked decreases in adolescent smoking, there is room for improvement, according to Dr. Paul Hasselback, medical health officer for central Vancouver Island.
The McCreary Centre Society’s 2013 B.C. Adolescent Health Survey for Central Vancouver Island included responses from Grade 7-12 students from Nanaimo and the number that have ever tried smoking decreased to 24 per cent, from 30 per cent in 2008.
While Hasselback said it’s great news, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ongoing concerns.
“I don’t think any of us would sit and say that one quarter of adolescents experimenting with tobacco is an acceptable level. It’s certainly better than it was and we’re headed in the right direction. We just have to continue to reinforce and encourage and remind that not only is it unhealthy, but it’s the healthy choice [that] the majority of youth now make and that’s good news,” said Hasselback.
While some suggest anti-smoking campaigns have curbed the rate, there isn’t a silver bullet-type fix, according to Hasselback.
“We’ve got a variety of different approaches to tobacco reduction and no one type of activity is going to be the magical solution. We need an environment where we have multiple reinforcing messages, many of which are positive about the healthier choices,” Hasselback said.
Twenty-seven per cent of males were more likely to have ever smoked, as opposed to 22 per cent of females, which is a departure from 2008, when males and females were equally likely to have smoked. Hasselback said some are more likely to get hooked.
“We’ve seen tracking of tobacco rates with various different genders. In particular, females tend to be less likely to experiment and less likely to [try out] at a younger age depending on the clique they’re in … males are more likely to be able to quit, so that again, you see more male experimentation.
“But if we’re looking at longer periods of time, we sometimes see that females are the ones that find themselves more habituated,” said Hasselback.