Young adults need help quitting smoking

Author: British Dental Health Foundation

Date: Feb 2013

Young adults need more information about the benefits of kicking their smoking habit, the results of a recent study reveals.

According to the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, three in every five (60 per cent) 18-29 year olds made no attempt to quit smoking. Only one in four (25 per cent) attempted to quit while one in seven (14 per cent) lasted more than 30 days without lighting up.

The study also noted the number of young people smoking was a concern, concluding that enhanced smoking cessation , targeted at this group, has the potential to ‘significantly improve’ the health of the public.
More than one in five people in the UK (21 per cent) smoke, yet the side effects of smoking are well-documented. Up to half of all current smokers will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease, one of which is mouth cancer.

With such a high proportion of young adults making no attempt to stub out smoking, leading oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation has urged smoking cessation groups across the country to provide clearer, more informed information about the hazards posed by smoking.

Chief Executive of the Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said: “The results of the study certainly suggest there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to getting young adults to kick the habit. Factors such as social economic status and peer pressure often mean young adults will be more reluctant to listen to any health information they are given.

It is here the profession needs to take extra responsibility. Smoking cessation has long been considered a dentists responsibility, and clearer advice on why young adults should give up smoking is a must.

The Foundations Tell Me About series has some excellent advice and information on what smoking does to oral health. While many people know it can cause teeth to become stained, many do not know it can lead to gum disease, tooth loss and even mouth cancer.

If the profession as a whole comes together and reaches out to people of all ages, hopefully we will see the number of mouth cancer cases fall resulting from tobacco use.

The attitudes of young people towards lifestyles that could put their oral health at risk have previously concerned the Foundation. According to research undertaken by the NHS Information Centre, more than one in four (27 per cent) 11-15 year olds admitted to smoking, a figure higher than the number of adults who smoke. Over a third (35 per cent) deemed it acceptable to try out smoking.

Dr Carter added: “With many so called ‘social smokers’ having a cigarette while they drink the likelihood is that the number of poor dental health and increased cases of illness will continue to rise until people are forced to take notice.

Encouraging people to quit these habits early could be life-saving. No Smoking Day on 13 March and National Smile Month, which takes place from 20 May to 20 June this year, are great windows of opportunity for those who need motivation to quit.

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Last revised: 25 February 2017

Next review: 25 February 2020