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A group of young people from Wales arrived in Spain today to launch a new toolkit aimed at helping young people across Europe to quit smoking.

The group - involving young people from Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Colwyn Bay and Merthyr – have traveled to Palencia, northern Spain, as part of an Erasmus Plus-funded project. The Filter Europe project aims to educate young people across the EU on smoking and tobacco issues.

As part of the project, teenagers from Spain, Austria, Romania, Belarus and Poland have worked together to create a young person-friendly toolkit for youth workers to encourage their young people to quit smoking or not start in the first place.

The project replicates the work of The Filter Wales, a well-established project which has been running for 4 years. The European project specifically works with young people from disadvantaged areas, just as The Filter has done here in Wales.

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The Filter Wales supports 11 to 25 year olds from across the country to quit smoking through engaging and inclusive workshops. Run by tobacco control campaign group ASH Wales Cymru, it has already worked with 6,000 young people since 2012.

40% of long term smokers in the UK start before the age of 16 and currently 9% of 15 to 16 year olds in Wales smoke regularly. Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the European Union.

Julie Edwards, who runs The Filter Europe project, said, “We have around 60 young people from 6 very different countries here in Spain, working together as one team. They’ve produced a stop-smoking toolkit which is something tangible that they can then take home to their communities and support their peers to quit tobacco.” 

“Many of these teens have never left their home country before as they come from areas classed as ‘disadvantaged’. We feel the toolkit they’ve created – by young people for young people - will make a huge difference not just to their friends, but to them personally for having created something worthwhile and something to be proud of.”

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Corey Jones, 18, from Forsythia Youth Project on Merthyr's Gurnos estate said, “Being in Spain for this project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - I feel like I’m making a difference helping young people to quit smoking. I’m here all thanks to Forsythia Youth Centre and The Filter Wales and I would do it over and over again if I could.”

Jordan Caldecott, 15, also from Forsythia Youth Project said, “It’s such a great experience being here and sharing the toolkit we helped create. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

The Filter Europe toolkit is available for free to any youth centre or project in Wales, contact ASH Wales for a hard copy.