The Malta Independent 21 September 2018, Friday

‘Be Smart, Don’t Start’ campaign launched to deter youths from smoking

Albert Galea Wednesday, 12 September 2018, 17:46 Last update: about 9 days ago

A campaign has been launched to try and deter youths from starting the habit of smoking.  Titled ‘Be Smart, Don’t Start’, the campaign goes along the logic of ‘prevention is better than cure’ and aims to pass a message from youths to other youths of the negatives of smoking in the hope that less and fewer people fall into the habit.

Various student organisations, namely Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU), Pulse, Studenti Demokristjani Maltin (SDM), Malta Health Students Association (MHSA), and Malta Medical Students Association (MMSA) have teamed up with the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate to set up a small task force to run this campaign.

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Speaking to The Malta Independent, Pulse President Johnluke Ellul said that the motivation for this campaign was to raise awareness with students of the negatives that smoking causes, be it in terms of physical health, mental health or in terms of economy, and to hence not start smoking in the first place.

Ellul explained that the campaign will take place over the course of a whole month and its message will be put forward through a number of activities and promotional messages such as a 30-second advertisement that will be airing on television stations across the island.

Between 2006 and 2014 daily smoking amongst 15-year-olds has decreased from 12% to 6% whilst the trend amongst 15-year-olds who smoke at least once a week has also decreased from 19% and 24% to 11% and 12 % (boys and girls respectively).  Hence, this campaign is aimed at older adolescents, targeting those 16 years old and over.  

In line with this campaign, the Directorate has recently opened a smoking cessation clinic within the new Health and Wellness Centre at the University of Malta, thus targeting adolescents who smoke as well.  The directorate also offers several services to help smokers quit their habit, and they operate a free ‘quitline’, 8007 3333, where people can call for help in ceasing their habit.

Apart from leading this joint campaign, the Directorate will also provide training sessions for health professionals in providing smoking cessation advice to their patients/clients, starting this September.  Brief advice from health professionals has been shown repeatedly to increase the percentage of smokers who stop or seek smoking cessation services.

Joseph Grech, a public health nurse, spoke of the benefits that not smoking brought. Firstly, he pointed out that smoking remains the biggest preventable cause of cancer, and that over 400 deaths related to smoking were registered last year. 

Grech said that the health benefits of not smoking are clear and well known, whilst the economic benefits are also profound; smoking a packet of cigarettes a day costs around €2000 per year, enough for a couple of European holidays.

For more information on the campaign, one can contact the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate on 2326 6000, by email on [email protected], via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – @HPDPMalta or on www.healthpromotion.gov.mt.  

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