Education: Students Spread No-Smoking Message

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 21, 2003 | Go to article overview

Education: Students Spread No-Smoking Message


Byline: MADELEINE BRINDLEY

SECONDARY school students are being employed as the latest frontline defence in the fight to stop youngsters smoking.

The Welsh-speaking peer educators have been spreading the ``dim ysmygu'' message to feeder primary schools in Neath Port Talbot empowering younger pupils to say no to peer pressure.

More than 350 children have now signed a pledge not to take up smoking as they approach their teens after hearing from the older students.

They are all now part of Smoke Bugs - the National Assembly's latest anti-smoking initiative aimed at primary school pupils.

Amina Jamal, head of specialist health promotion at Neath Port Talbot Local Health Group, said, ``We often hear from children that they take up smoking because they want to `look cool' to their friends.

``Peer pressure is very powerful and we wanted to turn that on its head and give older children an opportunity to help us promote the stay smoke free message.

``The children from Ysgol Gyfun Ystralyfera have been extremely committed and worked very hard over the space of a weekend to learn all they could about the health problems caused by smoking.

``They discussed how to encourage young people to stay smoke free and how to stand up to negative peer pressure.

``It was then up to the team at the health promotion unit to create a whole range of learning re-source materials to support them in their sessions with primary school children.''

According to anti-smoking group Ash, children become aware of cigarettes at an early age - three out of four children are aware of cigarettes before they reach the age of five, regardless of whether their parents smoke or not.

By the age of 11, one-third of children have experimented with cigarettes rising to two-thirds by the time they are 16.

About 450 children start smoking every day in Britain, and teenage girls are the fastest growing group of smokers.

Children who smoke are two to six times more susceptible to coughs and increased phlegm, wheeziness and shortness of breath than those who do not smoke, said Ash. And one study has revealed that children who smoke are three times more likely to have time off school. …

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