More schoolchildren smoking

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. 


  1. Cigarette smoking is injurious to one’s health and often leads to death. Because of the toxic substances present in cigarette smoke, no effort should be spared to educate the public at large, and teenagers in particular, about the serious health risks involved in smoking. Smoking not only affects smokers but also non-smokers through second hand smoke.

    The Ministry of Health must educate the public through TV, newspapers, flyers, and the like about the serious health hazards of smoking. Smoking not only affects the lungs, but also the mouth, teeth, eyes, tongue, throat, kidneys and liver as well. Graphics detailing the damage to the human body should be included. Public forums and seminars could also be held to create more public awareness.

    Maybe a public slogan such as, Smoking picks your pocket and makes a chimney out of your nose. Or, Stop smoking – the life you save may be your own might help.

    Geoff Daniels

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