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Published: 31 may 2012 14:34

Teen smoking on the rise in Lithuania

Fotolia nuotr. / Smoking
In spite of measures being taken in Lithuania to limit access to tobacco products, the number of smoking teenagers is rising and they are getting younger, specialists say.

"Since 2006, the number of smoking men has been gradually decreasing. But, unfortunately, the number of women has risen slightly – 0.4 percent – since 2008. We have a huge problem of the rising number of smokers among teenagers and children. Figures show that around 11.3 percent of teenagers aged 11-15 smoke," Antanas Matulas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Health, said on Thursday at a press conference dedicated to the World No Tobacco Day.

Meanwhile Gražina Belian, deputy director of the Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department, said smoking children were getting younger. In her words, in 1994, boys had their first cigarette at the age of 13. Now they try smoking at the age of 12. Twenty years ago, girls used to start smoking at 15, and now they do that being 13.

"The number of smoking minors has been recorded in the group where children grew up in families with smoking mothers. A very clear link has been identified that the majority of smoking children are growing up in families where mothers are smokers, as compared to families with no smokers or where only fathers smoke. Since the peak of women smokers was in 2000, we now have the generation that grew in those families," Aurelijus Veryga, president of the National Tobacco and Alcohol Control, said.

Matulas said the parliament was debating several bills to fight teenage smoking. "We want to not only ban smoking for minors under 18, but also possessing tobacco products just as we did with alcohol," he said.

According to figures presented by the Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department, a third of Lithuania's population smoke.

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