PEOPLE today are more likely to start smoking during school than at any other moment of life, a study by Bergen University in Norway found.

The popularity of cigarettes has been declining among all age groups, except that of 11 to 15 years.

The most common age in which this unhealthy habit is adopted is 16 years for boys and 15 for girls, as opposed to 1970 when it was 18 or 19 years old.

Scientists say that the worrying rise in the number of people who start smoking in the early teens from 1990 to the present. Twice more girls in Western Europe aged between 11 and 15 years began to smoke in 2009 compared to 1970. Therefore, they warn that anti-smoking advertisements should be targeted at younger people, because those who fail by age 20 are unlikely to not start at a later age.

As part of the research, data on 120,000 people from 17 European countries were collected between 1970 and 2009. European smokers have 17.2 years when they become addicted to cigarettes.

Particularly worrying is the fact that the proportion of those who start smoking before reaching the age of 15 rose from 17 percent in 2012 to 19 percent in 2014.

In 1970, before the 15th birthday, only two percent of girls began to smoke, while in 2009 this figure increased twice or four percent.

“Since the 1970 anti-smoking campaigns have been largely successful, but the message can not reach all age groups. The company must focus on directing campaigns to the youngest. Of course, if you stop smoking at an older age, the risk of heart attack and lung cancer is reduced, but society as a whole gets more if the youngest age groups are kept healthy, “said the researcher Cecilie Svanes, adding that it is very unlikely that someone will start to smoke, if he did not do it by the age of 20 years.

Scientists believe it is particularly important to affect men.

“We saw that smoking in boys before the age of 15 had affected their future children. For example, their offspring more often had asthma, than children of non-smokers. Animal tests have also shown that nicotine causes greater risk, “Svanes warns, adding that electronic cigarettes are not a good alternative to cigarettes, at least not for the youngest age group.

The results of this 39-year research were published in PLOS One.