CIGARETTE SMOKING AT SCHOOL

CIGARETTE SMOKING AT SCHOOL

631 Blankets of these materials have been tried in regular hospital use, and have been found satisfactory in all respects, except that cotton is rathe...

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631 Blankets of these materials have been tried in regular hospital use, and have been found satisfactory in all respects, except that cotton is rather more inflammable than wool (although not dangerously so) and terylene more easily causes static electrical sparking. We wish to thank the Cotton Board for valuable advice, Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd., William Cunningham & Co. Ltd., and John Kershaw & Co. Ltd. for providing the materials with which these trials were made ; and the nursing staffs at Hemlington and Poole Hospitals for their cooperation. REFERENCES

Barnard, H. F. (1952) Brit. med. J. i, 21. Blowers, R., Wallace, K. R. (1955) Lancet, i, 1250. Mason, G. A., Wallace, K. R., Walton, M. (1955) Ibid, ii, 786. Rountree, P. M. (1946) Med. J. Aust. i, 539. van den Ende, M., Lush, D., Edward, D. G. ff. (1940) Lancet, ii, 133. —

CIGARETTE SMOKING AT SCHOOL A. PARRY JONES Cardiff, D.P.H.

M.B.

DEPUTY MEDICAL OFFICER OF

HEALTH, CHELTENHAM

THOUGH many schoolmasters can make a shrewd estimate of the prevalence of cigarette smoking in their classes, more definite information is scanty. This article records the smoking habits of the pupils at a secondary modern school for boys. Nearly all were 11-15 years of age, but a few were 16. Each was questioned in the presence of his fellows and of his class teacher. The interviews took place on two consecutive days and all the 307 pupils in attendance were seen. FINDINGS

The a

boys cigarette,

asked whether they had ever smoked Over and (if so) when they first did so.

were

TABLE I-PROPORTION OF BOYS STATING REGULAR SMOKERS

THAT

THEY

WERE

two-thirds of the 32 11-year-olds had already tried smoking, and 38% of all the boys said that they had smoked before entering the school at 11 -4-. One claimed that he had first smoked at 6 years, and several at 7. The next question was are you smoking cigarettes now ? Of the boys aged 11, only 1 considered himself a regular smoker, but the numbers rose dramatically at 12 and again at 14 (table i). By their own account, no fewer than 32% of the boys in the school were regular smokers. Finally the smokers were asked how many cigarettes they smoked each week. The replies were surprising (table n). One 13-year-old regularly smoked over thirty a week, and two 14-year-olds smoked over forty. (A few words with their form-masters confirmed their claims.) Few in the younger age-groups smoked more than five

regularly

TABLE II—NUMBER

OF

CIGARETTES

SMOKED

WEEKLY

cigarettes a week, but the consumption tended to increase with age. Certain tobacconists in the town sell cigarettes singly and it was from these sources that many obtained their supplies. COMMENTS

These

verified, and the boys may replies have exaggerated their smoking habits through pride ; but an opposite bias may well have been operative in this survey, for smoking is prohibited both during school hours and whilst the pupils are journeying to and from school. The enquiry was conducted on the school premises and the investigator was known to the pupils as a result of his duties with the School Health Service. A few boys may, therefore, have repressed details of their smoking habits for fear of authoritarian repercannot be

cussions. The results of this survey cannot be applied unreservedly to other secondary modern schools ; neither can the smoking habits of the survey pupils be regarded as typical for all boys of their age. This Secondary Modern School serves a predominantly working-class area, where many of the senior pupils work outside school hours. Consequently, there can be no denying that the results of this survey may be abnormally high. At present, no action is being taken to inform the

public repeatedly about the possible dangers of cigarette smoking. The decision is based, apparently, on the fact that scientific proof of the causation of lung cancer is lackimg.l This may be contested on the grounds that in the past, preventive action has not waited upon complete proof of causation. The first public-health measures in this country were instigated on the strength of a demonstrated association between insanitary living The result conditions and certain infectious diseases. that many infectious diseases, such as cholera and typhus, had been virtually eliminated before the causal organisms were identified. Surely, a programme of school lectures on the possible dangers of cigarette-smoking would be sound, and the law forbidding the sale of cigarettes to juveniles (Section 7, Children and Young Persons Act, 1933) should be more strictly enforced. It is reputed that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton : unhappily, the lung-cancer statistics of a future RegistrarGeneral are being determined on the playing fields of the modern generation. was

I am grateful to Dr. T. 0. P. D. Lawson, medical officer of health for Cheltenham, and to the headmaster of the school for their encouragement and advice.

UNIVERSITY DEVELOPMENTS BETWEEN the Exchequer and the universities, finance is measured by quinquennia, and last week the Chancellor announced in Parliament (see p. 642), the Treasury grants for 1957-62. These will rise from 1:301/2 million in 1957-58 to £39½ million in 1961-62. The grant for 1952-53 was E20 million, and the increase recognises the difficulties which the universities have faced and are still facing. Even so, as Mr. Thorneycroft pointed out, the grants take no account of the latest increases in academic salaries.2 In deciding how much these grants should be, he had before him the interim report 3 of the University Grants Committee for 1952-56. The committee considers that the way in which the universities have met the economic strains of the past years " should strengthen public confidence in their administration." They have had to meet

rising

costs

by curtailing development ; but,

1. Brit. med. J. 1956, ii, 1246. 2. See Lancet, March 16, 1957, p. 583. 3. University Development. Cmd. 79. 1957. Pp. 26. 1s. 3d.

H.M. Stationery

even

Office.