Wales’s only dedicated stop smoking service for young people has helped a record number of young smokers quit since securing funding from Welsh Government.
In the first year of the programme, a total of 334 young people signed up to the six-week course which is run by tobacco control campaign group ASH Wales.
To mark its first birthday, the project has released statistics showing its success. Over this time 124 of the young people quit for good whilst 72% tried to stop.
Of the young people 61% said they had tried to quit without success before taking part in the programme. In addition, 83% said at least one member of their family smoked and over 60% said they had smoked cheap tobacco, often illegal, meaning it bypasses safety measures, health warnings and tax.
The six-week course engages young people who want to stop smoking by involving them in creative activities, which in turn gives trained staff the opportunity to discuss quitting tobacco in a friendly and relaxed manner.
Commit to Quit visited 41 youth provisions including young parent groups, youth centres and Pupil Referral Units - all of which are out-of-school settings across Wales.
Commit to Quit’s unique service is essential to stop the current generation of young people becoming part of the 19% of over 18s who smoke in Wales.
Suzanne Cass, Chief Executive of ASH Wales Cymru, said: “Most adult smokers begin experimenting with tobacco in their teenage years and that’s why it is vitally important a targeted service, such as Commit to Quit, is available for young people to give them the facts about tobacco and the deadly harm it causes.
“Our work is all about fitting the specific needs of young people – we go where they hangout, we get their friends involved and we don’t ever judge or patronise them. Thanks to the funding from the Welsh Government, we helped hundreds of teens to lower the amount they smoke or stop altogether.”
Minister for Social Services and Public Health Rebecca Evans said: “Smoking is damaging to people’s health whatever their age. Across Wales, the number of people kicking the habit is increasing, but there is always more to be done reduce the number of people smoking even further.
“The positive progress ASH Wales has been made in helping young people quit smoking is something I welcome. It is crucial that young people fully understand the dangers of smoking early, so they can make healthy life choices for their futures.”
Commit to Quit is funded until March next year and aims to help a further 125 young people to quit in that time.