Teenagers need more effective anti-smoking campaigns tailored to their needs, state researchers who presented a new report on teen smokers.
"If you just tell them that smoking is bad, you're going to marginalise them from society," Sebastian Bohrn-Mena, the Austrian coordinator for the EU-wide ACCESS project told a press conference.
ACCESS, a consortium of health organisations from 10 European countries, was launched in 2009 to study ways to encourage young smokers to quit.
"The aim should be not to tell young people what to do, but to let them make their own decisions," according to report.
Anti-smoking campaigns should be more carefully tailored to young people, reaching them in places where they spend a lot of time such as schools, sports club and discos, on top of more traditional media like television and the Internet, the report recommended.
Using appropriate language, appealing to teenagers' tastes in music, fashion and entertainment, and if need be, offering incentives like cinema vouchers, were also among the strategies offered up by the report.
In Austria, half of the 17-year-olds and 25 percent of youngsters under 15 smoke, according to European Commission figures.
More had to be done to remedy the problem, urged Othmar Karas, a conservative European deputy and president of the Austrian healthcare organisation Hilfswerk.
"We have to ask why young people start smoking," he told journalists Monday.
According to Karas, a Europe-wide smoking ban is still far off.
"I don't see a majority in favour of that at the moment," he said.