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Guidance to prevent young smoking

25th February 2010

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published new public health guidance which focuses specifically on school-based methods to prevent children and young people from starting to smoke.

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The new guidance outlines effective steps that educational establishments, education and health professionals, pupils and their parents and carers can take to help young people stay away from smoking.

Among the recommendations are suggestions to encourage pupils to lead smoking prevention activities and bring discussions on the effects of tobacco into a range of curriculum topics.

Director of the NICE Centre for Public Health Excellence Professor Mike Kelly said: "The earlier children become regular smokers, the greater their risk of developing life-threatening conditions, such as lung cancer and heart disease, if they continue smoking into adulthood.

“By the time they are 15 years old, over 55% of children have tried smoking, and 15% are already regular smokers. This new guidance will help stop children from even starting to smoke, by advising on what action schools can take.”

The guidance urges schools and colleges to offer adult-led interventions and peer-led interventions aimed at preventing uptake of smoking and provide information about the health, economic, social and legal effects of tobacco use.

They also say schools and colleges should develop a smoke-free policy.

Alasdair Hogarth, Head Teacher and Member of the NICE Public Health Interventions Advisory Committee, said as smoking prevalence increased as children got older, the committee considered it most effective for smoking prevention activity to begin in primary school.

 

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