Teenage smokers heed campaign

The number of teenagers smoking in Guernsey has been halved after a radical anti-smoking campaign on the island.

The anti-smoking lobby is now hoping the success can be mirrored in the rest of the UK.

The Channel island introduced a series of measures in 1997 to try to cut the number of young people smoking, including raising the age for buying cigarettes from 16 to 18.

They also introduced Gasp, the Guernsey Adolescent non Smoking Project, to try to cut tobacco use. Halved

A new survey, by Exeter University, shows the measures are working with only half the number of teenage smoking compared to the rest of the UK.

Gasp sent staff into schools to educate pupils about the dangers of smoking and set up a club for primary school children to encourage them to take up more sport.

They also ran a youth quit line and used text messaging and radio campaigns to warn of the dangers of smoking.

Alun Williams, chairman of Gasp, said: “We are really excited about these results.

“Guernsey has taken a risk by being at the forefront of smoking reduction initiatives and we seen now that the risk has paid off.”

Mr Williams said one of the keys to Gasp’s success was that the island, which has just 60,000 inhabitants was such a close community.

Anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said the campaign, which included a ban on advertising tobacco and restricted smoking in public places, had “lead the way in reducing smoking among young people.”

Amanda Sandford of Ash said: “We certainly hope that the successes seen in Guernsey can be mirrored in the UK once the tobacco advertising ban is fully implemented.”

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD