TWENTY-THREE percent of Balearic teenagers between 14 and 18 smoke. This is ten percentage points less than the year 2000 and lower than the national average of 28.7 per cent. The islands have the lowest proportion of young smokers in Spain, according to Bartolomeu Jaume, head of the health ministry's drug dependency department. He announced the figures yesterday, World Tobacco Free Day.
But although the drop in teen smoking is encouraging, Jaume also said that last year there were 306 new cases of lung cancer in the Balearics, 279 of them men and 27 women, and 279 of them died. The risk of contracting lung cancer drops by half ten years after stopping smoking, and by 90 per cent 15 years after smoking, he said.
Teresa Martorell, head of the Balearic chapter of the Spanish Association of the Fight Against Cancer, said that the association is seeking a change in the fiscal system which would raise the tax on tobacco, forcing up the price. The extra funding would be used for therapy and prevention.
Yesterday the Association had a stand in the Plaza España, where volunteers handed out brochures and information and swopped cigarettes for lollipops.
It also announced courses to help people stop smoking and new campaigns in schools.
The Balearic government recently passed a new law regulating smoking and the sale of tobacco, and an even tougher law is now being debated by the national Parliament.