A nine-year-old boy contacted the Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust’s Help2Quit programme to get help for his smoking addiction. His parents were completely unaware of his telephone call for help.
The young primary school boy is receiving aid in his quest to quit smoking after he became addicted and could not afford his habit. He stated that he was feeling breathless a few weeks after he first started smoking.
The young lad has admitted that he started smoking to ‘fit in’ with his friends. He is not the only young person with this problem.
Regardless of the £100m campaign launched by the government to highlight the risks linked to smoking, research has indicated that around 600 under-16 children start smoking each day across the UK.
Experts have warned that under-age smokers could face serious health problems as they become older. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of children seeking help to quit this habit. The Service Manager at Help2Quit, Pat Thomas, has stated that they have trained and are working very closely with school nurses in a bid to support education for school-going children.
She stated that when the movies and television portray smoking as a cool, glamorous habit, impressionable young people will try to copy the people they consider to be their heroes.
According to Glyn McIntosh, a representative of Quit, an anti-smoking charity, the organisation helps children as young as eight to quit the habit. She stated that kids who start at this young age do so to fit in with the main crowd and often obtain the cigarettes from family members as they do not have the funds to buy it.
They are normally already in an environment where they see their role models using cigarettes.
The Lead Clinical Nurse for Birmingham’s Stop Smoking Service, Carol Carter, has stated that the service offers a wide range of nicotine replacement therapies, such as lozenges, patches and gum. She said that if the service is contacted by children under the age of 12, they would offer behavioral support. They are currently building relationships with schools in their area. Carol Carter stated that most smokers start the habit between the ages of 11 and 13.
The young lad who contacted the helpline has no intention to become a lifelong smoker.
Image credit: Adriano Agulló