Anti-smoking campaign conveys uncomfortable message to parents

In collaboration with the Press Association

The UK government has launched a new anti-smoking campaign which aims to show parents how much their teenage children worry about their future health because of their tobacco habit.

The 'Worried' campaign adverts will go live on Monday February 23rd and are supported by a new survey commissioned by NHS Stop Smoking Services which questioned 400 youngsters between the ages of 11 and 15 whose parents were smokers.

Researchers found that 46 per cent of teenagers were more worried by their parents' smoking than by money, bullying or the prospect of divorce.

- Elspeth Lee, head of tobacco control, Cancer Research UK

Overall, 65 per cent of teenagers were worried about their parents' smoking, with 88 per cent of these expressing concern about the damage to their parents' health.

Nearly nine in ten felt that their school lessons had left them better informed than their parents about the risks of smoking, and 29 per cent claimed that they were their family's 'health expert'.

Three quarters of the teenagers revealed that they had asked their parents to give up smoking and 43 per cent felt anger at their parents' refusal to listen to them.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw said that he hopes the new adverts will encourage parents to give up smoking.

"Smoking results in over 2,000 deaths each week and is the biggest public health challenge this country faces. These new findings should also make parents think twice about the emotional distress their smoking has on their children," he said.

Paul Lambert, NHS Stop Smoking Adviser for Leeds, revealed that many referrals to local stop smoking services are as a result of teenagers telling their parents about the harmfulness of smoking, both to them and their families.

"We work with lots of families and provide flexible, tailored programmes to help them quit in a way that's suitable to them. And smokers are four times more likely to go smoke-free with local NHS Stop Smoking Service support," he added.

Elspeth Lee, Cancer Research UK's head of tobacco control, said: "We strongly support this campaign. It's shocking that half of all long-term smokers will die from smoking.

"It's unacceptable for tobacco companies to target young people. We know that tobacco retail displays and tobacco packs are designed to help build relationships between young people and tobacco brands.

"We also know that many underage smokers buy cigarettes from vending machines. We urge the government to put tobacco out of sight and out of mind to help prevent young people from taking up a lethal addiction."