The purpose of this paper is to examine trends in smoking prevalence among adolescents and young adults in the UK and to identify any developments in health education…
The purpose of this paper is to examine trends in smoking prevalence among adolescents and young adults in the UK and to identify any developments in health education theory and practice relating to adolescent tobacco use since 2000. The implications of such research are discussed.
A literature search was conducted focusing on UK studies covering the period 2000‐2007.
Since the start of the new millennium a slight downward shift in smoking prevalence has been recorded among 11‐15 year olds after at least two decades of little change. International studies suggest that smoking rates among British adolescents are below the average of other European nations. Greater declines in smoking have been evident in young adult smokers. Smoking uptake occurs in response to a range of factors. Recent research has provided further insight into the psychology of young people although young people's attitudes towards smoking do not necessarily predict smoking uptake. Although there is a correlation between smoking uptake and other substance use, the evidence to support the gateway theory is inconclusive. Youth smoking prevention programmes devised by the tobacco industry may do more harm than good and the motives for providing such schemes are questionable. Despite extensive research, there is little evidence that school‐based smoking education programmes have a lasting impact on youth smoking prevalence. By contrast, population‐wide measures are more likely to result in the de‐normalisation of smoking and have a stronger influence on youth smoking. Health educators should support government and other agency initiatives to reduce smoking across the population as a whole rather than focusing on purely youth‐oriented campaigns.
This paper examines trends in youth smoking in the UK since the millennium. In addition it provides a comparison with international trends and points to the value of population‐wide tobacco control measures. It will be of interest to those involved with health and education.
The purpose of this paper is to introduce the five papers comprising this special issue on post‐millennium trends in young people's substance use in the UK. The positions…
The purpose of this paper is to introduce the five papers comprising this special issue on post‐millennium trends in young people's substance use in the UK. The positions taken by the authors of each of the papers in the issue are compared with respect to their conclusions on how best to reduce harmful outcomes for young people in relation to their substance use, and what role exists for health education in this process.
The approach takes the form of a narrative review of the papers in the issue.
Across substances (alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs), the authors identify slight downward trends in population prevalence of use by adolescents and young adults since 2000. This downward trend follows some fairly steep rises during the 1990s, resulting in levels of use remaining historically relatively high. The importance of global and demographic changes is identified as being important in understanding the (arguably somewhat limited) scope for changing youthful behaviour. The different recommendations for how to reduce harmful outcomes for young people are discussed: modifying the context/environment of use (for alcohol and tobacco), drugs treatment (for drug‐using offenders), tackling inequality and disadvantage (for heroin and crack cocaine).
Two key roles for health educators are identified: first, supporting mechanisms already known to be effective in reducing use/harmful use such as smoke‐free environments; second, providing an “expert” source of information used by the vast majority of young people who both want and require this on their lifelong health and drug “journeys”. Health education should have a harm reduction role; measuring success in terms of reducing population prevalence of substance use may be inappropriate and unrealistic.
Important insights are gained into substance use trends by young people when UK trends are set alongside international trends, and when all the psychoactive substances consumed are considered together.