Teenage girls blame boyfriends, not pop stars or models, for their habits

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Indy Lifestyle Online

For teenage girls - the least likely of all Britons to give upsmoking - the example of catwalk models and pop stars appears to pack a far a weightier punch than the warnings on a packet of Silk Cut. Image, research shows, simply forbids them to quit.

For teenage girls - the least likely of all Britons to give upsmoking - the example of catwalk models and pop stars appears to pack a far a weightier punch than the warnings on a packet of Silk Cut. Image, research shows, simply forbids them to quit.

There are few more sacred temples to image than the chi-chi streets of Wilmslow in Cheshire - where ladies lunch and millionaire footballers, soap stars and Victoria Beckham drive Ferraris - but Sarah Cafferty spoke for many girls in the town when she attributed her occasional smokes in pubs or nightclubs to her boyfriend - for whom the habit does not appear to be a surreptitious drag behind the bike shed. She said: "I don't think people like to see you smoking but my boyfriend does and it tends to be when I'm around him that I do. He's been smoking since Year 7 and his mum and dad know and because of that he doesn't try to quit."

Sarah, four days past her 15th birthday and spinning out the late afternoon in the town's McDonald's, dare not smoke in front of her mother.

"Mum smokes 20 a day and is always losing her voice," she said. Her mother was recently taken to hospital, prompting Sarah to cut down on a habit of five cigarettes a day. Her friend Rachel Fleury occasionally smokes for the same reason on nights out up in Manchester. "Our boyfriends both smoke and when we are around them we do," she said. Their idols are rap stars. "They're more likely to carry guns than a packet of cigarettes so it doesn't follow that we're imitating them," Rachel said, sagely.

Carolyn De Jomckheere, a 16-year-old shoe shop assistant, has seen the light. "People have the right to smoke - but in the privacy of their own homes. We don't all want to be polluted," she said.

But the example of Susan Laister, 18, on the town's run-down Colshaw estate, suggests that the war on cigarettes will take some winning. "It's a family thing. My parents and brothers smoke, so I do," she said.

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