Teenagers are much more likely to take up smoking if they live in neighbourhoods with a large number of shops that sell tobacco products, a study suggests.
Adolescents with the most tobacco outlets in their neighbourhood are almost 50% more likely to smoke than those with no outlets nearby, he findings showed.
The study also found that teenagers living in areas with the highest density of retailers are 53% more likely to try smoking at least once.
“Our research shows that we need to consider regulating the number of retailers selling tobacco in our neighbourhoods,” said lead researcher Niamh Shortt from University of Edinburgh in Britain.
Based on their findings, the researchers argued that anti-smoking strategies among teenagers should include reducing the overall density of tobacco retailers.
Limiting teenagers’ access to tobacco products is vital, as long-term smoking usually begins in adolescence, they pointed out.
The study of Scottish teenagers examined the relationship between adolescent smoking habits and tobacco outlet density in teenagers’ home and school neighbourhoods.
The researchers created a map of tobacco retailers for every postcode in Scotland. They examined the links between the number of outlets and teenage smoking habits using responses from a survey of more than 20,000 school pupils aged between 13 and 15.
Teenagers living in all neighbourhoods were found to be affected.