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Greek teens are still lighting up June 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.

Plans to bring in stricter restrictions on selling tobacco to children appear to be timely, as figures released yesterday show that around a quarter of Greek teenagers smoke, despite a slight drop over the last 20 years.

The figures compiled by the University Research Institute for Mental Health show that 38.4 percent of boys aged between 13 and 18 smoked in 1984 but by 2003 this percentage had dropped to 25.4. There has also been a reduction in the number of girls of the same age group who smoke, but the drop has been much less.

In 1984, 28 percent of 13 to 18 year-old girls smoked but this only fell to 23.8 percent in 2003. The downward trend is not reflected in the number of adult smokers, which rose from 38.1 percent in 1984 to 42.5 percent in 2004.

The number of men smoking during this period actually fell but there was a dramatic rise in the number of women smokers, from 21 percent to 34.4 percent.

The figures tie in with European Union statistics made public last month which found that 42 percent of Greeks are smokers versus an EU average of 32 percent. This percentage puts Greece at the top of the EU’s smokers list.

In a bid to tackle Greek teenagers’ smoking, the government said last month that it is planning to introduce a law banning the sale of tobacco to under-18s. The bill also envisages a ban on the sale of cigarette 10-packs, generally favored by youngsters as they are cheaper.

Another provision calls for a clarification to be printed on cigarette packs, next to the health warning, stipulating that they are not to be sold to under-18s. Inspectors will be sent to make sure the regulations are being followed, according to the draft law.

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