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News / January 30, 2008

Anti-smoking campaign targets young women

by Guy Hiscott

Young female smokers are the primary focus of a major new public information campaign launched by the Health Promotion Agency for Northern Ireland (HPA).

The new campaign has been developed to raise awareness of the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes and the cumulative damage that every cigarette causes. The campaign also highlights the lesser-known long-term health effects of cigarettes including mouth cancer, gangrene and the consequences to unborn babies of smoking during pregnancy.

Smoking among young women in Northern Ireland has hit an all time high, with more than twice as many females than males now smoking in the 16-19 year old age group (31% compared to 13%). Additionally, almost a third (32%) of mothers in Northern Ireland are smoking before or at some stage during their pregnancy, and this is most prevalent in the under-20 age group.

Dr Brian Gaffney, chief executive of the HPA, said: ‘Although we now have smoke-free legislation in place we cannot be complacent about the level of smoking in Northern Ireland.

‘Through this campaign we want to highlight to all smokers, and in particular young female smokers, that every cigarette has over 4,000 poisonous chemicals, including those found in rat poison, paint stripper, nail polish remover and household bleach, and smoking delivers these straight into your body’.