Research has revealed a significant drop in the number of new teenage smokers, with the reduction attributed to plain packaging laws.

A study commissioned by the Victorian Cancer Council in 2014 has just concluded, and it shows a 24 per cent drop in the amount of students who smoke in the past three years.

Analysts surveyed 23,000 students to find that 5.1 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds had smoked a cigarette in the week prior to the survey.

When the same survey was conducted in 2011 and 2008, 6.7 per cent and 7.3 per cent of high school students respectively said they had smoked in the previous week.

Cancer Council Victoria chief executive officer, Todd Harper, says the decline is mainly due to the introduction of plain packaging, as well as the increased cost of cigarettes combined with smoking bans.

“We are only now beginning to understand the significance of the change to cigarette packaging,” Mr Harper said.

“But peer-reviewed published research shows this was associated with a reduction in perceived attractiveness and appeal of cigarette packs to adolescents, even in the first year of its implementation.”

The biggest change came from the 12 to 15 age group, where there has been a 43 per cent drop in the number of smokers across the last six years.

Just 3 per cent of 12-to-15-year-olds now smoke, compared with 5.3 per cent in 2008.

Research coordinator Associate Professor Vicki White says it is a welcome trend.

“The consecutive decreases in the younger age group suggest that children growing into adolescence from 1999 onwards have overwhelmingly rejected experimenting and subsequently taking-up smoking,” she said.

Even so, 10.3 per cent of those in the 16 to 17 age bracket reported lighting up in the last week.