The volume of tobacco being sold to children by retail stores has continued to fall, new data from NHS Digital reveals.
The percentage of 11 to 15-year-old regular smokers who usually buy cigarettes from shops dropped to 38% in 2016, down from 57% in 2014, the Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England report shows.
There has also been an increase in the proportion of underage smokers who said they found it difficult to buy cigarettes in shops, from 25% in 2014 to 28% in 2016.
The percentage of 11 to 15 year olds who tried to buy tobacco from shops and were refused at least once also grew – from 58% to 64%.
Friends and family were also the largest sources of alcohol for underage drinkers in 2016, the survey also revealed.
Of pupils who obtained alcohol in the last four weeks, the most common sources were to be given it by parents or guardians (70%) or given it by friends (54%). Just over 40% said they took it from home with permission, while 6% said they got it from shops.
Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said the figures showed that retailers were “continuing to make significant progress toward eliminating the sale of age restricted products to young people.”
“Industry initiatives like Community Alcohol Partnerships, Challenge 25, the Proof of Age Standards Scheme and others which promote consistent messages to retailers about underage sales are clearly having a positive impact,” he said.
Electronic cigarette use among young people rose slightly, with 25% of pupils reporting that they had ever used them. This is up from 22% in 2014.