Children ask parents to quit smoking in new government campaign

In collaboration with the Press Association

The Department of Health has launched a new anti-smoking campaign in which children ask their parents to quit the habit.

A series of adverts has been created featuring children talking about how concerned they are by their own parents' smoking.

In one advert, Molly from London pleads with her mother to give up smoking because "I don't know what I would do without you".

A survey of 1,000 children, published to coincide with the campaign launch, has found that the vast majority (96 per cent) of eight to 13-year-olds wish their parents would give up smoking.

Nine out of ten children said that they had never tried a cigarette and 91 per cent thought that they never would.

The survey, which was carried out on behalf of NHS Stop Smoking Services, also revealed that more than nine out of ten children do not think older smokers look cool, while 64 per cent would turn down extra pocket money in favour of their parents giving up smoking.

Figures suggest that four out of ten children have at least one parent who smokes, with 51 per cent of these parents lighting up in the home.

Public health minister Gillian Merron noted that 2,000 people die every week from smoking-related diseases, having a "devastating" effect on children.

She conceded that stopping smoking is difficult, but revealed that people are four times more likely to quit if they use the free NHS stop smoking service.

Ms Merron said: "I hope this new campaign will give mums and dads the encouragement they need to realise they can do it with help from the NHS and support from their children."

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking & Health (ASH), described the new adverts as "powerful" as they tap into children's day-to-day emotions.

"This campaign gives smokers a clear incentive as to why they should quit and a clear guide as to how they should do so - using free local NHS support," she added.

Elspeth Lee, Cancer Research UK's head of tobacco control, commented: "This is a hard hitting campaign.

"Allowing children to express their fears and worry about smoking provides a very powerful motivation for parents to quit smoking. It will be interesting to hear how parents respond to this and whether it succeeds in helping them to give up."