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320 children try to kick their smoking addiction

By Lisa Smyth

Shock new Government figures show that 320 young people aged between 11 and 16 tried to quit smoking in Northern Ireland last year.

According to Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) statistics, 35% reported to have successfully quit four weeks later, 43% indicated they were still smoking, and 21% were not able to be contacted for the follow-up.

The figures show that people under the age of 18 had the least success in giving up smoking, compared to other age groups.

And of the 616 pregnant women who signed up to the smoking cessation services, 32% had still not quit four weeks after their chosen quit date.

This means over 190 women were putting the health of their unborn babies at risk by continuing to smoke while pregnant.

The figures have been released just days after Health Minister Michael McGimpsey announced he has asked his officials to press ahead with the public consultation on proposals to change the way tobacco products are sold in Northern Ireland.

Mr McGimpsey hopes the legislation will help stop young people take up smoking in the first place and assist others trying to quit to give up the deadly habit.

Under the proposals, shops will no longer be allowed to openly display tobacco products.

Speaking in the Assembly this week, Mr McGimpsey said: “I sought approval from Executive colleagues in December 2009 to issue for public consultation draft regulations banning the point-of-sale display of tobacco products.

“All ministers, with the exception of the First Minister, have given their approval for that consultation. The earlier those measures are introduced, the more people we will save from a premature death caused by smoking.

“Lung cancer is the single biggest avoidable cause of death, and, therefore, the ban on displays is crucial.”

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