'Stop smoking - and help your children not take it up,' campaign says

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There has been a large increase in the number of people smoking during the pandemic. - Credit: Pixabay

Top medical experts have warned that teens whose parents or caregivers smoked are four times as likely to have taken up smoking.

Analysis has also shown that early teens whose main caregiver smoked were more than twice as likely to have tried cigarettes (26 percent vs 11 percent ) and four times as likely to be a regular smoker (4.9% vs 1.2%).

A new government Better Health Smoke Free campaign has launched this week as leading family doctors warn of the issues facing the children of smokers – and calls on people to help prevent this by quitting in January.

In a new film released today, NHS and behavioural health experts discuss the link between adult smoking and the likelihood of children in their household becoming smokers. 

This includes family GP Dr Nighat Arif, child psychologist Dr Bettina Hohnen, and smoking cessation experts Professor Nick Hopkinson and Dr Anthony Laverty of Imperial College London, who have called on parents in particular to give up smoking in the new year in order to set a good example to their children.   

Deputy Chief Medical Officer and joint lead for the Office for Health Improvement and Disparity, Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, said: “Smoking is terrible for your health but it also has a negative impact on people around you.

“Most people know the dangers of second smoke but we should not overlook the impact that parents have as role models. Every parent wants what is best for their child and will not want them to become smokers. By stopping smoking now, parents can help break the pattern of smoking in their family across the generations, protect their children and improve their own health.”

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The campaign comes as the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics shows that one in eight adults in England still smokes. There has been a complex picture of smoking patterns since the pandemic, with high rates of quitting but also high levels of relapse and signs of a rise in smoking rates among younger adults. 

The Better Health campaign gives access to a range of free quitting support and tools including free expert help from local Stop Smoking Services, the NHS Quit Smoking app, Facebook messenger bot, Stoptober Facebook online communities, daily emails and SMS, and an online Personal Quit Plan. 

Search “Smoke Free” for free and proven quit smoking tools and advice on different types of support,  nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) and e-cigarettes, to help you quit smoking.