The PHA is using International Youth Day as an opportunity to highlight the issue of smoking among young people in Northern Ireland. The vast majority of our children don’t smoke, but almost 1 in 10 children aged 11-16 are regular smokers.¹
Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health with the PHA, said: “Research shows that the majority of adult smokers adopt the habit in their teens, often during transition from primary to post primary school. Nearly one quarter (24%) of pupils in Years 8 to 12 have smoked tobacco with higher rates in girls (27%) compared to boys (21%). We also know that the average age for young people to have their first cigarette is around 12 years of age.²
"The tobacco industry promotes smoking to young people as glamorous, when in fact it makes you smell like an ashtray, makes your skin more wrinkled and ultimately is likely to kill you.”
One young person who feels very strongly about the issue is Sarah Moffatt, a Fashion Management Student at Belfast Metropolitan College. Sarah explains: “For my dissertation I chose the topic of how fashion can be used to communicate messages, and called it Can fashion speak louder than words? I discovered a lack of anti-smoking and fashion related projects and decided to make an anti-smoking jacket to help answer my dissertation question. I also learned of the alarming amount of young female smokers and decided that fashion could be an effective vehicle to communicate the message to them.”
Sarah was well aware of the damage smoking has on the body and therefore included in her design the damage smoking causes to lungs. She also made two oversized sleeves representing a smoker’s and non-smoker’s lung.
Sarah continued: “A smoker’s lung is black whereas a non-smoker’s lung is healthy and red and I used that colour scheme for the jacket. I also made the main body grey to represent smoke being wrapped around the body. I distorted the fabrics in one sleeve to create the effect of the damage smoking causes to lungs and made the other sleeve as pretty as possible, with lots of different colours, shades and textures of reds. I also printed a photo of a stubbed out cigarette onto fabric and sewed it onto the back. My aim was to send an anti-smoking message through fashion, and hopefully I achieved it.”
Dr Harper said: “This is a very creative idea and I congratulate Sarah on a beautiful piece of art that may also have a strong appeal to young fashion conscious women, too many of whom smoke. Smoking is an addiction that can be difficult to break and what often starts as just an experiment for young people can soon become a permanent, expensive and unattractive fixture in their lives.”
“Most smokers quit on their own and the website www.want2stop.info has simple advice on how to quit. Help is also available through a range of smoking cessation services provided by GPs, practice nurses and pharmacies - many of whom provide one-to-one support to quit smoking. Support specifically for young people is also available in some schools and youth settings.”
Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), such as patches and gum, are also available. Pharmacists, GPs and practice nurses will also be happy to advise on suitable products. If you would like further information on what smoking cessation support is available, then contact your local tobacco control office on these telephone numbers:
Western Area (028) 82253951
Southern Area (028) 37414557
Northern Area (028) 25311169
Eastern Area (028) 90279353
For further information on stopping smoking please visit www.want2stop.info.
- ENDS -
Notes to the editor:
Sarah Moffatt will be available for interview on Thursday 12 August. Contact Press Office on number below to arrange this.
Mark Mc Bride, Tobacco Control Coordinator, PHA will also be available for interview.
International Youth Day is a day declared by the United Nations to focus on the needs and issues surrounding young people and has been running since 1999.
¹http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/cmo_annual_report_2008.pdf. Last accessed 10 August 2010.
² Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. Secondary analysis of the 2007 Young Persons’ Behaviour and Attitudes Survey. Belfast: DHSSPS, 2009.
Pictured with the smoking jacket are (left to right) Design student Sarah Moffatt, Gerry Bleakley, Lead for Tobbaco, Public Health Agency and Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health, Public Health Agency.
For further information
Contact PHA Press Office on 028 90311 611