Belfast Telegraph

Pupils on red carpet after starring in DVD to stub out smoking

Pupils from Belfast Boys’ Model School got the red carpet treatment at the cinema premiere of a DVD they helped make on Monday night.

The boys, together with teenagers from St Dominic’s Grammar School for Girls, Cregagh Youth and Community Centre and Youth Intervention Project, scripted, filmed and acted in the production, Dead Cool.

The Ulster Cancer Foundation (UCF) teamed up with film makers the Educational Shakespeare Company (www.esc-film.com) to produce the film, launched on time for No Smoking Day today.

The 12 youngsters who made it all happen were there for the premiere of Dead Cool — Young People and Smoking at the red carpet event at Movie House Cinema, Dublin Road.

The project, funded by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, explores young people’s attitudes to smoking, triggers for lighting your first cigarette, the use of smoking in media, peer pressure and how families are affected when young people start smoking.

Thomas Pollock (16), from Belfast Boys’ Model School, said: “Projects like this one encourage you to really think about the issues. I never did like smoking. My attitude is, is it worth the money and the damage to your health? There are better things to buy, and I don't want to ruin my health either. There really is no point to smoking. If your friends pressure you, they aren't really your friends.”

Bronach Petticrew (15), from St Dominic's in west Belfast, added: “It has made me more confident about saying no in the future to anyone who offers me a cigarette — and it has made me more confident about other things too.

“It's your decision. I think a lot of young people will be able to relate to the film much better than someone coming to the school and telling us all about the dangers of smoking.”

Judith West, producer and cancer prevention officer at UCF, said: “Focus groups with young people identified stress, boredom, peer pressure and the use of smoking in media such as E4’s Skins as key triggers for starting to smoke. Young people who experiment with tobacco can become quickly addicted.

“The earlier a young person begins to smoke the worse is the impact on their health. There is also the financial implication of tobacco use as well as short-term effects like bad breath, smelly hair and clothes.”

Joanna Dover, from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, said: “Three-quarters of the smoking population took up the habit while in their teens or younger, therefore having a resource produced by young people will hopefully aid young people to say ‘No’ to smoking and reduce this startling statistic.”

Belfast Health Trust and UCF will be developing support material for schools, youth and community groups, free of charge, in the new 2011-2012 academic year. Contact Judith West on 9066 3281 or judithwest@ulstercancer.org for more details.

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