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This article was published 31/5/2012 (2753 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The number of Manitoba high schoolers who smoke has been cut in half in the last five years, and those kids are now among the least likely to smoke among youths in Canada, a new national survey suggests.
The Youth Smoking Survey, funded by Health Canada, queried more than 50,000 kids in grades six to 12, including 7,500 in Manitoba. It was released Thursday — dubbed World No Tobacco Day.
Among high school kids in grades 10 to 12, 8.8 per cent of Manitobans reported being current smokers in 2010-11. That's down from 19.5 per cent, according to the same survey done in 2006-07, and down from the 12.1 per cent recorded in 2008-09.
Just 1.7 per cent of kids in grades six to nine in Manitoba were smokers, according to the survey, down from 2.6 per cent in 2006-07 and 2.5 per cent in 2008-09.
"It's great news," said Will Cooke, tobacco-advocacy coordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society (Manitoba Division).
Manitoba youth had the second-lowest smoking rate among kids in grades six through nine and the third-lowest among kids in grades 10 to 12. In 2006, Manitoba had the highest number of smokers in grades 10 to 12 of any province.
Cooke credits Manitoba's programs targeted at kids in schools for the drastic reduction. Those programs include the Create and Rate anti-smoking video ad contest, and the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Team, which sees older students make presentations to younger students about the dangers of tobacco.
"The province has invested a lot in preventing these kids from starting smoking," said Cooke.
Graphic warning labels on cigarettes, the indoor smoking ban, the ban on cigarette displays in stores and the rising cost of cigarettes are also helpful, said Cooke. Manitoba recently hiked its tobacco tax, making the price of a carton of cigarettes higher in Manitoba than in any other province.
The survey found kids are more likely to try smoking as they get older. Among kids in grades six to nine, nearly one in five Manitobans has tried smoking. By the time they got to high school, it was more than two in five.
The survey found most kids who smoke get access to cigarettes from friends and family or have someone buy them for them. Only a fifth of female teens and a little more than a quarter of male teens report buying cigarettes themselves.
The Youth Smoking Survey also queried alcohol and marijuana use. Nationally, 45 per cent of kids in grades seven to 12 reported drinking alcohol in the last year, and one-third reported binge drinking, defined as consuming more than five drinks in a single setting. About one-fifth had used marijuana.
Manitoba also announced Thursday it was proclaiming legislation allowing it to sue tobacco companies to recover health costs related to smoking. The province is working with B.C., Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to sue eight national and international tobacco companies.
Smoking by the numbers
Current smokers, grades six to nine, Manitoba (Canada):
2010-11: 1.7 per cent (2.2 per cent)
2008-09: 2.5 per cent (3.5 per cent)
2006-07: 2.6 per cent (2.4 per cent)
Current smokers, grades 10 to 12, Manitoba (Canada):
2010-11: 8.8 per cent (10 per cent)
2008-09: 12.1 per cent (13.2 per cent)
2006-07: 19.5 per cent (11.4 per cent)
Alcohol and marijuana use, grades 7 to 12, Manitoba (Canada):
used alcohol in last 12 months, 40.8 per cent (45.4 per cent)
binge drank (more than five drinks in one sitting) in last 12 months: 30.5 per cent (33.3 per cent)
used marijuana: 23.2 per cent (21.2 per cent)
— Youth Smoking Survey 2010-11, Health Canada