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27 January 2015, 12:19
Areas of the North East have been highlighted as among the worst areas in the country for smoking rates among young people.
Hartlepool (15.87%), Gateshead (15.92%), Plymouth (15.93%), South Tyneside (16.27%) and Kingston upon Hull (16.68%) have been identified as having high rates of youth smoking.
Nationally an estimated 12.71% of 15-year-olds are regular or occasional smokers, but the data shows considerable variation between areas, according to the researchers.
Areas with the lower estimates were concentrated in Greater London, including Harrow (5.15%), Newham (5.37%), Redbridge (5.68%) and Brent (5.70%).
The study was commissioned by Public Health England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), and was created using modelling provided by the universities of Portsmouth and Southampton.
A University of Portsmouth spokeswoman said:
"The figures are estimates of youth smoking rates for every local authority, ward and local NHS level - based on factors known to predict young people smoking.
The data will help local organisations to respond to high levels of smoking within their areas.
Nearly 8 million people still smoke, with 90% having started before the age of 19."
Professor Kevin Fenton, national director health and wellbeing for Public Health England, said:
"Nationally youth smoking rates are falling and are at their lowest ever levels.
But we know smoking rates vary considerably across the country and smoking causes greater harm to more deprived communities.
The estimates shine a light on communities where young people have a higher risk of smoking and will help local agencies to focus efforts where they are most needed.
We want to secure a tobacco-free generation and these figures will help us towards this goal. Our most disadvantaged communities have the most to gain.''