The need for further regulation surrounding the sale of tobacco in shops has been undermined yet again after a government-sponsored survey showed that smoking among young people had fallen to an all-time low.

The annual NHS survey on smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2010 revealed that the number of young people who smoke has continued to decline in the past year, with 27% of pupils aged between 11 and 15 admitting to have tried smoking at least once, compared with 29% in 2009 and 44% in 2001.

Heightened attempts by retailers to clamp down on underage sales and support of No ID No Sale and CitizenCard campaigns have also led to a sustained fall in attempted purchases from shops over previous years.

In 2010 7% of pupils said they had attempted to buy cigarettes from shops, down from 10% in 2008 and 17% in 2004.

The proportion of pupils being refused cigarettes when they tried to buy them in shops has also been rising steadily since the survey began in the mid 1990s. Among those 7% of pupils who had attempted to buy cigarettes from a shop in the past year, 58% said they had been refused.

Association of Convenience Stores public affairs director Shane Brennan said: "The survey results are really positive and prove that current initiatives to combat underage smoking are proving effective. Government should not be investing in any new regulatory burdens unless there is confident evidence to prove that it is needed."

However, the pressing need for new laws to curb the proxy purchasing of tobacco for young people was also highlighted by the survey's result.

It revealed that 10% of all pupils had asked someone to buy them cigarettes from a shop in the past year, and that most of these proxy purchases were successful.