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Young people from the North West take a stand on smoking

Young people from across the North West attended a debate on smoking in the media and the impact of plain cigarette packaging at a special youth event hosted at Media City on 15 February – the first of its kind in the UK.

More than 70 14-17 year olds from across the North West at the Watching Me, Watching You event in Salford to hear the views of entertainment and research experts and discuss the impact that cigarette branding and smoking in the media has on their friends and peers.

The day included workshops, activities and a host of specialist speakers including media professionals and smoking experts. Peer Researchers from the North West Regional Youth Work Unit also spoke about their findings after examining young peoples’ thoughts on how marketing, promotion and media references may influence their smoking behaviour and perceptions of smoking. 

Young people’s views on these issues were recorded and will feed into the Government’s public consultation on whether the UK should adopt plain, standardised cigarette packs, which is due to launch in the coming weeks.

Emily Kay a member of Bury Youth Parliament said: “I learnt a lot about the tobacco industry and how it targets young people.  And it was really interesting to hear what the peer researchers found in their research with young people.”

Peter Elton, Lead Doctor for Tobacco Control in Greater Manchester said: “The Tobacco Industry is determined to attract new young smokers who will become addicted to their products.  So it is vital that we hear the views from young people about how they feel about these attempts to manipulate them to take up the habit of smoking.  We listen to what the young people have to say and will act upon the lessons we learn from them.  We are delighted that so many are willing to turn up to an event to discuss these issues.  It shows how important they think it is.”

Watching Me, Watching You was the first event of it’s kind in the country, and is part of a programme of activity planned by Smoke & Mirrors – a Tobacco Free Futures project which highlights the negative practices of the tobacco industry and encourages young people to look at tobacco harm in a completely new way.

Andrea Crossfield, Director of Tobacco Free Futures, said: “We have gained valuable insight from the young people and I hope we can develop some of their views and ideas to inform our work at Tobacco Free Futures, helping us turn off the tap to youth smoking and make smoking history for children.”

The North Westis leading the way in the UKon youth tobacco issues, with research findings that suggest 8 out of 10 young people in the region think that the Government should do more to tackle smoking1.

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