More than a third of Canadians have tried smoking by age 17.

More than a third of Canadians have tried smoking by age 17.
Photo Credit: CBC

Doctors advised to talk to young Canadians about smoking

Canadian experts who develop health prevention strategies say far too many young people smoke tobacco and health care professionals should help them stop or not start in the first place.

By the time they are 17 years old, 36 per cent of Canadians have tried smoking and almost 90 per cent of adult smokers started before they were 18. The earlier they start smoking the less likely they are to stop.

‘A tremendously negative impact on health’

“Smoking has a tremendously negative impact on health,” says Dr. Brett Thombs of the Canadian Task force on Preventive Health Care.

“What we would like to have happen is that when children and adolescents go see their doctor or go into the medical setting that they’re asked about tobacco smoking—are they smoking or not. If they’re not…that doctors and nurses still provide them with really important information about the harms of smoking and strategies like how to avoid peer pressure that can get kids smoking when they may not really want to. And, if they have tried smoking, (health professionals should provide) some tips and strategies on how they might stop.”


Strategy found to have worked

Young Canadians already get many warnings about smoking at school and from television. Thombs says it is important the message come from as many sources as possible. And he thinks some young people may respond to warning from doctors who they may have known all their lives or who they regard as authorities on health. One study found that such interventions reduced the likelihood that a child or teen start smoking by 18 per cent.

The Canadian government is considering making 21 the legal age to buy tobacco and Thoms says that too is a very good idea.

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