It used to be a rite of passage. In the 1980s, one in four teenagers smoked cigarettes weekly and many went on to get hooked.
But young people today are not so keen. Patrick Killeen, 16, said he had never been attracted to smoking, but rather thought it was an anti-social thing to do.
Smoking has lost its glamour for teenagers.
“There’s a lot of places you can’t smoke now … so if people want do it, they usually have to go somewhere else,” he said. “It’s definitely not cool.”
While Patrick can think of one guy his age who smokes occasionally, neither he, nor his friends, want to take it up.
“I think it would make me worse at sport, my fitness would go down and I would find it harder to breathe,” he said. “I know it causes cancer too. I’ve seen the ads where people are in wheelchairs and need oxygen.”
Public health experts are celebrating the views of students like Patrick. They say all indicators suggest the allure of smoking has faded for young people in Australia over recent decades. In 1984, 24 per cent of teenagers told surveys they smoked cigarettes in the previous week. By 2011, this had dropped to just 7 per cent. The federal government has not released more recent data since plain packaging was introduced in 2012.