Youth smoking down, but not enough: Group - Metro US

Youth smoking down, but not enough: Group

Despite smoking rates hitting an all-time low in Albertans over 15 years old, there is still concern over youth smoking, according to a provincial anti-smoking organization.

A national study released by Health Canada on Monday showed that 19 per cent of Albertans over 15 were smokers during the first half of 2008, marking the first time statistics in Alberta reached under 20 per cent.

But Action on Smoking and Health Calgary spokesperson Robyn Hauck said they are still concerned about the number of teens smoking.

“Smoking rates among Alberta teens remain disturbingly high despite the gains that have been made in reducing tobacco use among adults,” said Hauck, calling for another tax hike on smokes.

According to 2007 Health Canada statistics, 20 per cent of Alberta teens 15 to 19 were current smokers.

ASH Edmonton spokes­person Karlee Stevens called for an outright ban on flavoured cigarettes to drastically reduce that number.

“They are absolutely geared towards youth because of the taste and packaging. They look like lip gloss and youth are more prone to try them and get hooked,” she added.

But 15-year-old Michelle, of Calgary, agrees.

“I didn’t even start smoking until just a year ago. I always said I never would, but I caved in to peer pressure,” the teen said, who didn’t want to use her last name.

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