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Harms of cigarette smoking

call to increase knowledge among children

Lonergan, Bradleya; Harding, Victoriaa; Cohen, Hannahb; Wylleman, Elisac; Cohen, Richardd; Stebbing, Justina

European Journal of Cancer Prevention: January 2019 - Volume 28 - Issue 1 - p 54–57
doi: 10.1097/CEJ.0000000000000409
Research Papers: Life Style

Although the major burden of disease caused by smoking is observed in the adult population, two-third of smokers start before the age of 18 years. Reducing the number of young smokers could lead to marked improvements to the health of the UK population and save billions of pounds in National Health Service finances. However, very little is known about what makes children decide to not smoke or to quit early. We believe that increased awareness of the health risks associated with smoking will reduce smoking uptake among children. This study identifies a significant lack of knowledge among children aged 11–17 years at two London secondary schools and potentially identifies an area for improving our antismoking programmes. Although 80% of pupils cited lung cancer as being a smoking-related disease, very few other conditions could be recalled. We must do all we can to reduce smoking uptake in children. Understanding their baseline knowledge is the first step towards addressing the deficits in our current antismoking programmes.

aDepartment of Oncology, Imperial College London

bJFS School

cUniversity College School

dDepartment of Surgery, University College London Hospital, London, UK

Correspondence to Victoria Harding, MBBS, Department of Cancer and Surgery, Imperial College London, ICTEM Building, Du Cane Road, London W12 0HS, UK Tel: +44 207 594 2792; e-mail:

Received January 9, 2017

Accepted July 13, 2017

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