Teens help stub `uncool' habit

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Health Editor

Teenagers are a vital weapon in the battle to stop people smoking, according to research which shows that more than 75 per cent have tried to persuade their parents to quit. Even youngsters who admit to smoking themselves say they have nagged their parents to give up.

The survey of 11 to 15-year-olds suggests children and teenagers no longer see smoking as rebellious and trendy. They are more concerned about the effects on their own health of their parents' habit.

Smokers with children are also more likely to want to quit and to have tried to give up, says the survey, published by a coalition of health- promotion groups in the run-up to No Smoking Day tomorrow.

Alison Hillhouse, who chairs the No Smoking Day charity, said: "We were surprised by the strength of the children's feelings. They see smoking as a barrier to a happy family life. Children . . . are quite clearly worried about the effect smoking will have on their own health . . . What we can do is help children to help their parents."

In a survey by the National Asthma Campaign and Blue Peter, the BBC children's programme, researchers found that almost three-quarters of 10,000 asthmatic youngsters who took part believe other people's cigarette smoke made their condition worse. Of those, 31 per cent were living with someone who smoked. Melinda Letts, chief executive of the NAC, said: "This survey reveals an appalling catalogue of wholly unnecessary suffering. Children with asthma are particularly vulnerable - they can't control their environment and it's time for adults to face up to their responsibilities."

Last year, 2 million people took part in No Smoking Day with an estimated 40,000 giving up for good. Over the past 10 years an estimated half a million people have been helped to stop smoking by the venture.