Swedish girls start smoking earlier..

February 12, 2009 - Swedish girls are starting to smoke at younger ages than their counterparts in other countries. In this new study, which took place on the initiative of the international cancer institute in Lyon, France, 5,000 women in Ireland, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, and Sweden, answered questions about when and why they started smoking. In comparison to girls in other European countries, Swedish girls in the youngest age group, 14-years-old and younger, are twice as likely to have started smoking.

Margareta Haglund, who helped complie the results, a tobacco policy expert at the Swedish National Institute of Public Health (Folkhälsoinstitutet), told Svergies Radio:“It shows clearly that girls in Sweden begin at significantly younger ages than in other countries in Europe, which is alarming,”

Haglund warned of the dangers associated with smoking at an early age. “The earlier you start smoking, the larger the risk to your health. If you start before you are 15-years-old, there is a four times greater risk for developing lung cancer than if you start after 25. She suggested that tobacco companies not be allowed to market their products to young people and that tobacco products only be sold from behind the sales counter so that they are not visible to passersby.

Around a fifth of women in Sweden are daily cigarette smokers; 19% women vs. 16% men, which is lower compared to the 25% female average in the western WHO-Europe Region. Men are much more likely to use oral snuff or ‘snus’; 20% men vs. 1-2% women. The argument over the idea that snus alone has caused the decrease in smoking prevalence is simplistic and should be avoided. In fact, only the minority of smokers who quit smoking did so by using snus. International Network of Women Against Tobacco Women and Tobacco in Sweden, INWAT Europe, 7/12/2004.

Reference: Swedish girls start smoking earlier: study, The Local, 1/15/2009.