A survey from the National Drug
Council reveals that more middle and high school students are lighting up
cigarettes than in the past.
The figures, which show that
14.4 per cent of students from grades 7 to 12 who have taken any kind of
substance in the past year, have smoked cigarettes, compared to 6.8 per cent in
2006 and 6.7 per cent in 2002.
The statistics were revealed
during Tobacco Awareness Month, when the Cayman Islands Cancer Society focused
on efforts to educate people about the dangers of smoking.
The report showed that male
students were more likely than females to have smoked in the past month, with
7.4 percent of males saying they had smoked over the previous four weeks
compared to 6.4 per cent of females.
Smoking increased significantly
with grade levels, the report shows.
According to the report: “In
2010, 34.5 per cent of all students surveyed reported that it is “easy” or “very
easy” to obtain cigarettes. This increases linearly with grade, from 10.5 per
cent of 7th graders to 52.1 per cent of 12th graders.”
Although many students
acknowledged they were aware of the risks involved with smoking, almost one in
10 of the smokers showed some worrying ignorance on the subject.
“In 2010, 46.4 per cent of
students reported that they believe smoking one or more packs of cigarettes a
day posed great risk. However, about 9 per cent of students felt there was no
risk involved with this behaviour,” according to the report.
The average age at which these
young smokers took their first puff was 12 years old, but 32.8 per cent of
smokers said they had had their first cigarette between the ages of six and 11.
numbers in Cayman
Comparisons between smoking
habits of students in Cayman compared to those in Ontario, Canada, and Barbados
show that more students in grades 10 and 12 in Cayman smoke compared to their
counterparts in those places.
The findings in the report are
based on data from the Cayman Islands Student Drug Use Surveys conducted in
1998, 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2010 at local middle and high schools. According to
the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, the risk of developing cancer generally
increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and the number of years of smoking,
so starting smoking at an early age increases the chances of developing lung
“Teenagers who start smoking are
more likely to become lifelong smokers,” said Victoria Anderson, project
coordinator of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.
“Our best advice – don’t start
smoking! If you do smoke, make your plan to stop,” she said, adding that the
Cayman Islands Cancer Society will soon be offering smoking cessation
Cancer is the second leading
cause of death and was among the first diseases causally linked to smoking.
Lung cancer is the leading cause
of cancer death, and cigarette smoking is linked to most cases, causing almost
90 per cent of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80 per cent in women,
according to the Cancer Society.
Smoking causes cancers of the
oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, lung and bladder.
There are more than 4,000 toxic substances in tobacco smoke. Here are a few of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and other places they are found:
Acetone – found in nail polish remover
Acetic Acid – an ingredient in hair dye
Ammonia – a common household cleaner
Arsenic – used in rat poison
Benzene – found in rubber cement
Butane – used in lighter fluid
Cadmium – active component in battery acid
Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
Lead – used in batteries
Naphthalene – an ingredient in moth balls
Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
Nicotine – used as insecticide
Tar – material for paving roads
Toluene – used to manufacture paint
“Teenagers who start smoking are more likely to become lifelong smokers.” Victoria Anderson, Cayman Islands Cancer Society.