Smoking is the main cause of preventable illness and premature death in Britain. Although smoking amongst young people has been falling steadily, it still presents a significant threat to health.
Schools have an important role to play in providing effective drug education, including about tobacco, and supporting those who want to stop smoking.
It is important to teach children and young people about the health risks associated with tobacco use, although knowledge alone is not enough to prevent the uptake of smoking. Some common approaches to tobacco education may have the unintended consequence of enhacing risk factors for starting smoking; these include approaches designed to create fear or disgust such as a focus on graphic photographs of smokers lungs. Drug education and public health messages need to be designed with care or they risk being effective only with those who were at low risk of smoking to start with.
Drug education can reduce levels of smoking among young people if it is interactive and focussed on young people's skills, attitudes and values, including correcting young people's overestimates of smoking prevalence. A use of social norms can help to reduce smoking prevalence in young people.
Further information about smoking prevention can be found in this briefing from Mentor.
Support for Wiltshire schools
Support to quit
It is important that smokers have easy access to support to help them quit. As a minimum, information on local NHS Stop Smoking Services should be easily available in schools.
The Public Health England 2018 Stoptober campaign is promoting the message that quitting is easier with support.
School children in Wiltshire should be signposted to their GP or local pharmacy for support to stop smoking. It's very hard to give up by willpower alone so using stop smoking medicines can really increase chances of success. As these are available on prescription, they'll be free for 12- to 18-year-olds.
Resources and further information about the 2018 Stoptober campaign can found at from https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/6-stoptober
Motiv8, the substance misuse service for young people aged 11-18 in Wiltshire are also promoting Stoptober with some key stop smoking messages appropriate for teenagers on their Instagram site. Encourage students to follow Motiv8 on Instagram @ dhimotiv8.
Main contact details for Motiv8 are email: info@dhimotiv8 Phone: 0800 1696136
The NHS Under-18s guide to quitting smoking with tips and key messages can be found here