Adolescents and tobacco use in Italy: a long way to go
Policies enforced in Italy over the last 20 years did not prevent another epidemic of tobacco use.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality, resulting in nearly 6 million deaths each year. Most smokers begin smoking during adolescence; therefore, preventing tobacco use among young people is an integral part of ending the tobacco epidemic. A recent study gathered all available smoking-related data from the main national surveillance systems on adolescents conducted in Italy during the last 20 years, aiming at depict trends of tobacco use among young people. Among 11- and 13-year-old students, daily and non-daily smokers decreased by 30–50% from 2002 to 2015, whereas tobaccouse among adolescents aged 15–16 years has been stalling or even increasing. Moreover, the appeal of smoking is increasing and more than 90% of them declared to be exposed to smoking scenes in movies or TV. Indeed, according to the 2015 ESPAD (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs) survey in adolescents aged 15–16 years, Italy recorded the first highest prevalence of current smokers in the EU. This suggests that policies enforced in Italy over the last 20 years were insufficient and that strong tobacco control measures (i.e. rise in tobacco taxes, implementing well-designed mass media anti-tobacco campaigns) are urgently needed in order to prevent another epidemic of tobacco use.
Ref: Gorini G, et al. A long way to go: 20-year trends from multiple surveillance systems show a still huge use of tobacco in minors in Italy.Eur J Public Health. 2018 Jul 12. [Epub ahead of print]