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Young Smokers Getting Even Younger

Young people are turning to cigarettes and alcohol at an earlier age, a study commissioned by the North Rhine-Westphalian government has revealed. Boys start smoking at 11.3 years on average, and girls begin on average at 11.9 years. Five percent of German school children already drink alcohol on a regular basis by the time they are in fifth grade (10-11 years old), the University of Bielefeld study discovered. Within the last five years the age at which kids start to smoke dropped by one year. Now every third ninth grade student (14-15 years old) smokes regularly. Every third boy and every fifth girl in ninth grade has tried marijuana or hashish and 40 percent of the boys and 26 percent of the girls drink alcohol regularly.