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Across Wales 9% of 15 to 16-year-olds smoke and this figure hasn’t changed for 4 years, a classroom’s worth of children still take up the habit every day.

ASH Wales spoke to Abi and Sophie from Bridgend who started smoking at the ages of 14 and 12, to find out more about why young people continue to smoke in Wales and the challenges they face when trying to quit.

youth smoking, wales

Sophie, 17,

I started smoking when I was around 12 and a half. I was out with my friends who smoked and I was having family issues at the time. I found that it helped with my stress levels

I suffer with depression and if I wake up in a bad mood I’ll smoke around 25 to 30 fags a day. On a good day I’ll smoke 15 to 20 cigarettes a day. It really improves my mood.

Usually I get my friends to buy fags for me because I look young for my age and there are shops that won’t serve me but they will serve them even though they are the same age.

I spend my wages on cigarettes and I know I’d have a lot more spare cash if I didn’t smoke. I’d spend it on clothes, shoes, make up and going out with the girls instead.

I did manage to give up for six months a while ago, but I started again because I had family problems.

Most people who know me say they never would have guessed that I’m a smoker. I hate smoking, I despise it. It’s a dirty habit, but I rely on it for my mental health.

I was shocked to hear that 17% of people in Wales smoke. I thought it would be more like 70% because everybody around me smokes. It’s a lot harder to quit when everybody else in your family does it.

It’s definitely starting to affect my health. We have to go up two flights of stairs to get to the top floor at our training centre and by the time I reach the top I’m gasping for breath.

Abi , 17

I was 14 when I started smoking. My father had passed away and everybody around me was smoking and I just thought it was a cool thing to do.

It’s a dirty habit and it makes your clothes smell of smoke. But I can’t help it now because I’ve been smoking for so long.

I do it more when I’m stressed. If it’s a bad day, I’ll smoke around 15 to 20 cigarettes a day and on a good day it will more like 10 to 15.

Every week I spend around £20 on cigarettes and I usually ask my partner to buy them for me.

I once smoked an illegal cigarette, but it was disgusting. You could really taste the chemicals in it.

I’ve definitely got less money than if I didn’t smoke. I’ve tried to quit using nicotine spray but I didn’t like it. In future I’m planning to try again but I’ll cut down the amount I smoke first, not just quit straightaway.

Around here everybody smokes. Literally there are people smoking everywhere, and it makes you want to have a fag even more. All my family and friends smoke too.

I don’t think there are enough resources available to help young people to stop smoking. I didn’t know that you could get help from a pharmacist to give up.

I think it would put people off if they made the age you could buy a cigarette 21 instead of 18.


Find out more;

Smoking and mental health 

Smoking and young people 

Help Me Quit

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