“My name is Marc and I’m a volunteer for ASH Wales. I started smoking when I was around the age of 13-14. My parents had always been against smoking and would lecture me on the dangers and how much trouble I would be in if I ever started. A few of my friends I hung around with in school would smoke but I never wanted to be one of them people. I used to go out after school with these friends and they would always be smoking around me. Obviously I felt left out of the group. The feeling of being left out made me feel horrible. I thought the only way to be one of them and to fit in was to smoke. My friends would always offer me a cigarette and I would always turn them down. But this time it was different. The feeling of being left out got too much so when I got offered and said yes. From that day on I got addicted and continued to smoke until I was 17.
When I was doing my second year of college I had to attend a placement. I chose to do my placement with ASH Wales. It seemed wthey had a lot to offer and would develop my Youth Worker skills. I was still smoking at this point. My job role was to assist with making and delivering session to young people around Wales about the topic of smoking. I would go into schools, PRU’s (pupil referral units), youth centres, NEETS (not in education, employment or training) basically anywhere young people were to deliver these sessions. I would always feel hypocritical telling people about the dangers of smoking and the effects it has on their health and that as a service, we are able to help if needed, as I was a smoker myself.
As I was getting further into my placement I was learning a lot about how much damage smoking actually causes. It really made me think that I wanted to quit. I ended up buying an electronic cigarette to help me stop and it worked. By using the electronic cigarette it stopped my craving for nicotine and also kept me busy. The same as smoking would. I am now 18 and have been using my electronic cigarette for nearly a year but seem to be addicted to this instead of smoking.
Recently I have been strongly involved with ASH Wales project called ‘The Filter’ where I am designing my own session around smoking and delivering it to many different areas around Wales. This has benefited many young people and also has developed my skills as a Youth Worker.”