In England around 150,000 children aged 11 – 15 are regular smokers. In 2006, 9% of children aged 11–15 years smoked at least one cigarette each week: 10% of girls and 7% of boys.
Since 1986, girls have had consistently higher rates of smoking than boys: in 2006, 24% of 15-year old girls were regular smokers compared to 16% of boys. On average, regular child smokers smoke 42 cigarettes per week despite the fact that it is illegal to sell any tobacco product to under 18s.
Reducing smoking prevalence in young people is, therefore, a key priority in improving the health of the population. Recent government policy has placed a greater emphasis on the role and responsibilities of individuals in adopting healthy behaviours and lifestyles.
January 2011 Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust Stop Smoking Service designed and developed a 12 week resource pack for schools to use to engage and work with young people to highlight and demonstrate the dangers of smoking and to reduce smoking prevalence amongst children.
A local secondary school in Birmingham piloted the resource pack supported by the Stop Smoking Service and a School Nurse. The evaluation demonstrated the effectiveness of the project and will be offered to other local schools to encourage young people not to smoke and lead to a smokefree Birmingham.
Farah Younus is a Stop Smoking outreach worker, working for Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS trust. She has a drive and passion for improving the health and well being of hard to reach and marginalised groups ensuring services are accessible and responsive to these groups.
Farah has developed and lead on several projects included a project to raise awareness of the dangers and myths around smoking and shisha, which has received recognition by the Tobacco Collaborating Centre as an innovative teaching tool for young people to be used in schools in the West Midlands. Farah represented the Service on National TV to highlight the dangers of tobacco to the Muslim Community.