A stop smoking project led by Welsh teenagers today (Thursday 21st September) celebrated engaging with over 1,100 young people across Europe with a showcase event in Cardiff Bay.
The event, supported by Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans marked over 300 youth leaders from 6 EU countries being trained by the scheme. A further 800 have benefitted from the peer-to-peer education in their home countries.
As part of the project, teenagers from Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Colwyn Bay and Merthyr have worked together to create a young person-friendly toolkit with workshops for youth workers across the European Union to use to encourage their young people to quit smoking or not start in the first place.
40% of long term smokers in the UK start before the age of 16 and currently 9% of 15 to 16-year olds in Wales smoke regularly. Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the European Union.
The European project – which has educated teenagers from Spain, Austria, Romania, Belarus and Poland – replicates the work ASH Wales has been doing specifically working with youths from disadvantaged areas in Wales.
ASH Wales has run a well-established, unique stop smoking service for young people across the country for 5 years. It supports 11 to 25-year olds to quit smoking through engaging and inclusive workshops and has worked with 6,000 young people since 2012.
Julie Edwards, who runs The Filter Europe project in Wales, said: “The Filter Europe has seen hundreds of inspiring youth leaders, speaking many different languages and from hugely varying backgrounds working together to make this project a success. They’ve produced a stop-smoking toolkit which is something tangible they can then take home to their communities and support their friends to quit tobacco.
“The workshops within the toolkit – created by young people for young people – have already started being delivered and they will make a huge difference not just to their friends, but to these teens personally for having created something worthwhile and something to be proud of.”
Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans, said: “Educating young people about the harms associated with smoking can have a major impact in our aim to reduce smoking prevalence. The Filter Europe is equipping young people with the knowledge to influence future behaviour and health outcomes.”
The Filter Europe toolkit is available for free to any youth centre or project in Wales, contact ASH Wales for a copy.