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Call for tougher antismoking laws

Medical experts have called for tougher action to tackle smoking among young people and have suggested a range of measures to discourage the habit.

A new report from the British Medical Association (BMA) highlights a relatively high proportion of young people who smoke regularly. It cites government figures which show that in 2006, 22% of people over the age of 16 in England, Scotland and Wales smoked. Among 16-19-year-olds, 20% smoked, while the figure was 31% among those aged 20 to 24.

One in 20 (5%) of eight to 15-year-olds questioned in Scotland in 2003 had smoked in the previous week. This figure ranged from 2% of those aged 12 to 29% of 15-year-olds.

The study also points to research which suggests that images of smoking in films fell between 1950 and 1990 but then began to rise. "Images of smoking are commonplace in films, television shows and magazines, and can influence the attitudes and behaviours of young people," the report's authors wrote.

The BMA argues for tighter regulations to make smoking less attractive to young people and calls for laws to be introduced which make it compulsory for antismoking adverts to be shown before films or TV programmes featuring people lighting up.

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British Medical Association