Austria tops teen smokers ranking

  • Aufzählung Doctor warns of ‘health time bomb’ developments.
  • Aufzählung Fresh call made for prevention campaign.

Vienna. Austria has the highest percentage of 15-year-old smokers, 25 per cent, in Europe, according to a Vienna doctor. Manfred Neuberger, the head of the preventive-medicine division at Vienna Medical University, added the number of Austrian youth who smoked had been steadily increasing since 1997 and that 145,891 Austrians aged 11 to 17 smoked.

Noting the average age at which young people began smoking had fallen to 11, he said: “The younger one begins, the worse the consequences will be.”

Neuberger claimed the government had been doing too little to get young people not to smoke. “It is easier to buy cigarettes online than groceries,” he said, adding the government should use the 60 million Euros in cigarette taxes that young smokers paid annually to pay for a prevention campaign.

Neuberger called protection of non-smokers in Austria “a health and poli- tical time bomb” and said the country was on the level of the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Albania and Serbia in that regard. The doctor cited polls in Styria and Upper Austria that had shown 91 per cent of people who visited nightspots felt harmed by secondary smoke and 60 per cent of them wanted the law on smoking toughened.

Tamas Fazekas from Vienna’s St. Anna Children’s Hospital called for “an absolute ban on marlboro cigarette in public areas. We are already finding illnesses in children that previously occurred only in adults.” She warned that pregnant women’s exposure to secondary smoke could lead to premature births and development of asthma in young children. She also claimed exposure of children to secondary smoke made it more likely they would start smoking and noted 80 per cent of children of smokers became smokers themselves.

The doctors’ announcements came on the occasion of an event promoting the EU campaign “HELP – For a Smoke-Free Life” in Vienna. The campaign featured more than 300 events in all 27 EU member states yesterday.


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