TEENAGERS are hoping to persuade others not to smoke, in a pilot project.
Researchers at the University of Leeds are running the scheme to test a possible way of encouraging youngsters not to take up the habit.
They quizzed pupils in five Leeds and Wakefield schools about how common they thought smoking was.
Through the SNIPS (Social Norm Intervention to Preventing Smoking in Young People) project, the pupils are coming up with ways to promote the fact that the vast majority don’t smoke.
Prinicipal investigator Dr Helen Elsey said: “SNIPS is a really exciting project. The pupils are developing their own campaigns, which means that they spread the positive message that the majority of pupils in their year do not smoke.”
SNIPS, which is being funded by the NHS in Leeds and Wakefield, aims to counter misconceptions about smoking. All year 8 pupils at the schools involved – David Young Community Academy, Allerton Grange High School, Brigshaw High School and St Mary’s Menston Catholic High School in Leeds and Featherstone Technology College in Wakefield – have completed a quesionnaire which shows the real and perceived numbers of young people smoking.
Then the results are used by a group of pupils to create a social marketing campaign using positive messages.
Each group at the Leeds schools is working with arts charity Space2 and Leeds Metropolitan University’s Graphic Design Department, while the Featherstone college is working with young arts company HQ Arts.
Space2 artist Kevin Hickson said: “Statistics have shown that the number of teenagers who smoke is much lower in reality than people think. The aim of the project is to support young people to come up with a campaign which uses positive messages about not smoking. This will be aimed at their peer group and followed up by a further survey to determine whether perceptions have changed.”
Dr Elsey added: “If all goes well in this feasibility study, we hope to scale up the intervention to cover a larger sample of secondary schools to see how effective the approach is at preventing pupils from starting smoking.”