Updated: Saturday, 18th November 2017 @ 8:06am

Kids who think smoking is ‘grown-up and exciting’ to be deterred by Tameside Council scheme targeting parents

Kids who think smoking is ‘grown-up and exciting’ to be deterred by Tameside Council scheme targeting parents

By Paddy von Behr & Pippa Field

Smoking around impressionable children is the latest menace to be tackled by Tameside Council, with a smoke-free ‘Party in the Park’ tomorrow.

The event aims to encourage adults not to smoke at school gates or playgrounds, after some children told council-run workshops they think smoking is ‘exciting’ and ‘grown-up’.

Annette MacCarthy, Health and Wellbeing Project Support Officer, helped pioneer the project and was alarmed by the kids’ attitudes.

“Children as young as three or four years old mimicking the action of smoking when you’re just talking about it – it’s quite scary,” she told MM.

“There’s some seeds being sewn and it’s time to get those seeds un-sewn by stopping the curiosity really.”

The party is part of the new health and wellbeing campaign, being promoted by Tameside Council and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Children from four Tameside primary schools were invited to create posters promoting the smokefree message, the best of which will be revealed on Sunday by Councillor Lynn Travis.

Miss MacCarthy said, as well as its aesthetic qualities, the winning poster really conveyed the message of ‘we want fresh air while we play’.

One of the runners-up was a year 6 pupil at St James’ Church of England Primary School and Catherine Parnell, deputy head, was delighted with the result.

“I was really shocked when we found out one of our pupils had won,” she said. “We were all really pleased.

“The children loved the day and learnt a lot from it. They went home with balloons and a lot of them talked about it to the parents.

“We even had some come up the following day saying that they had been told by their children they had to give up smoking.”

Miss MacCarthy said children who see their parents smoking are eight times more likely to take it up and 90% of smokers start before the age of 19.

By combating the issue, the number of smokers in Tameside – estimated by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) at just over 41,000 – can be reduced in the long run.

Dr Paula Whittaker, NHS Tameside & Glossop’s Specialist Registrar in Public Health, believes the scheme can therefore help cut the borough’s £68million cost of smoking.

“The biggest cost is in terms of the health of the population,” she said.

“We help about 2,000 people quit smoking every year, so we make savings in the long run.

“Helping people to quit smoking, and ensuring young people don't start smoking, is the most effective way to help people have longer, healthier lives.”

Of this £68million – also estimated by ASH – £1.7million is the cost of collecting of smoking-related litter.

Dr Whittaker also told MM for every 100 people who quit smoking, ten strokes and 13 heart attacks will be prevented over the next ten years.

Cllr Lynn Travis, Executive Member for Adults’ Services, will be in attendance on Sunday and is excited by the project.

“I’m thrilled that we’re making the playgrounds of Tameside smoke free,” she said.

“It’s a really positive step towards protecting the health of our children.”

By Paddy von Behr & Pippa Field

Smoking around children is the latest menace to be tackled by Tameside Council, with a smokefree ‘Party in the Park’ on Sunday.

The event aims to encourage adults not to smoke at school gates or playgrounds, after some children told council-run workshops they think smoking is ‘exciting’ and ‘grown-up’.

Annette MacCarthy, Health and Wellbeing Project Support Officer, helped pioneer the project and was alarmed by the kids’ attitudes.

“Children as young as three or four years old mimicking the action of smoking when you’re just talking about it – it’s quite scary,” she told MM.

“There’s some seeds being sewn and it’s time to get those seeds un-sewn by stopping the curiosity really.”

The party is part of the new health and wellbeing campaign, being promoted by Tameside Council and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Children from four Tameside primary schools were invited to create posters promoting the smokefree message, the best of which will be revealed on Sunday by Councillor Lynn Travis.

Miss MacCarthy said, as well as its aesthetic qualities, the winning poster really conveyed the message of ‘we want fresh air while we play’.

One of the runners-up was a year 6 pupil at St James’ Church of England Primary School and Catherine Parnell, deputy head, was delighted with the result.

“I was really shocked when we found out one of our pupils had won,” she said. “We were all really pleased.

“The children loved the day and learnt a lot from it. They went home with balloons and a lot of them talked about it to the parents.

“We even had some come up the following day saying that they had been told by their children they had to give up smoking.”

Miss MacCarthy said children who see their parents smoking are eight times more likely to take it up and 90% of smokers start before the age of 19.

By combating the issue, the number of smokers in Tameside – estimated by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) at just over 41,000 – can be reduced in the long run.

Dr Paula Whittaker, NHS Tameside & Glossop’s Specialist Registrar in Public Health, believes the scheme can therefore help cut the borough’s £68million cost of smoking.

“The biggest cost is in terms of the health of the population,” she said.

“We help about 2,000 people quit smoking every year, so we make savings in the long run.

“Helping people to quit smoking, and ensuring young people don't start smoking, is the most effective way to help people have longer, healthier lives.”

Of this £68million – also estimated by ASH – £1.7million is the cost of collecting of smoking-related litter.

Dr Whittaker also told MM for every 100 people who quit smoking, ten strokes and 13 heart attacks will be prevented over the next ten years.

Cllr Lynn Travis, Executive Member for Adults’ Services, will be in attendance on Sunday and is excited by the project.

“I’m thrilled that we’re making the playgrounds of Tameside smoke free,” she said.

“It’s a really positive step towards protecting the health of our children.”

Picture courtesy of Fried Dough, with thanks.

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