Almost a third of young adults in Scotland smoke
The number of young people smoking in Scotland has returned to a level last seen nearly 10 years ago, according to a report by health officials.
The survey revealed nearly a third of people between 16-24 are smokers.
In 2004 the number of young smokers in Scotland had fallen to just 25% but by 2007 that figure was 31%.
The government says more needs to be done to curb smoking and achieve its target of reducing the number of young smokers to less than 23% by 2012.
The NHS Health Scotland and Scottish Public Health Observatory study revealed that in the 16 to 19 age group, females are more likely to smoke - while the highest rates are found among young offenders and care leavers.
In the 16-19 age group, young women generally have higher smoking rates than young men. In the 20-24 age group, male rates exceed female rates.
In 2006, 28% of 16-24 year olds in Scotland were regular smokers: an estimated 166,000 young adults.
Some specific groups in the population have much higher smoking rates than the average. Four in five young offenders smoke - 2000 young adults - and two thirds of care leavers - 1000 young people a year.
Half of young adult smokers in 2006 were in employment (51%), with 30% Not in Education, Employment or Training, 16% in Further or Higher Education and 3% at school.
Employed smokers aged 16-24 were clustered in particular industries: wholesale, retail and repair trades; hotels and restaurants; construction (men) and health and social work (women).
However, in general, large employment sectors had high numbers of smokers and small employment sectors low numbers.
The Scottish Government has set a target to reduce the smoking rate of young adults to 22.9% by 2012.
Public Health Minister Shona Robison said: "We are committed to doing all we can to reducing smoking rates in Scotland - both by encouraging more smokers to quit and discouraging young people from starting in the first place.
"Significant progress has been made in recent years to shift cultural attitudes to smoking, but this report clearly demonstrates that firm action needs to continue if we are to succeed in our desire to make Scotland smoke-free.
"In our smoking prevention action plan, published in May, we signalled our intention to remove cigarettes from open display in shops.
"We are currently taking this forward in consultation with the industry and our proposals will be included in the Health Bill to be introduced next year."
David Gordon of NHS Health Scotland is co-lead of the Scottish Public Health Observatory.
He said: "Smoking rates have fluctuated without showing any sustained trend between 1999 and 2007.
"Meeting the 2012 target will require sustained and radical population-wide action to discourage take-up and promote smoking cessation, particularly among young people in the workplace, as well as specific approaches for groups with particularly high smoking rates such as young homeless adults and young offenders."