National stop smoking campaign proves successful

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As more than 250,000 young people are likely to start smoking this year, a new national stop smoking campaign, Cut Films, is hoping to reverse the trend by encouraging young people to make films which encouraged their friends and families to stop smoking through innovative and peer-led films.

Piloted in nine schools and one Youth Club between September and November 2009, the project challenges young people to research, write and produce a short film about the dangers of smoking, and then to publish them for other young people to view on You Tube and Facebook via the Cut Films website.

Charlie Stebbings, leading film director and Founding Trustee of the Deborah Hutton Campaign said: “The number of people who smoke has come down significantly, but there are still too many teenagers starting smoking and getting addicted. I want to give young people a voice to explore and convey the messages that they think will stop other young people from smoking.”

In England today, there are over 2 million fewer adult smokers than there were a decade ago, yet this year alone, it is estimated that around 250,000 more people in England will start smoking. The majority of these will be under the age of 18.

The launch of Cut Film coincides with the Department of Health’s brand new Tobacco Control Strategy which highlights the need ‘to stop the inflow of young people recruited as smokers’ as the first of its three key objectives, including a specific focus on reducing the smoking rate among 11–15-year-olds to 1% or less, and the rate among 16–17-year-olds to 8% by 2020.

A full evaluation of the pilot phase of Cut Films has recently been published, based on research with teachers and students from each of the participating schools, highlighting a number of positive outcomes.

Young people who took part in Cut Films felt that the approach created a strong environment for them to find their own voice on the issue of smoking, and to get the message out to their peers about the consequences of smoking in a creative, relevant and impactful way. Some young participants who were reportedly non smokers also suggested that the film making process did help persuade them not to take up smoking.

A number of different approaches were used to deliver the Cut Films project within schools – it was offered both within the curriculum as part of a range of key stage 3 core subjects, as part of GCSE and BTEC media studies courses, and as an extra curricula school club.
Teachers involved in Cut Films reported that it provided them with a flexible, effective and user-friendly teaching resource for educating students on the issue of smoking, and without lecturing them, closely supporting their PSHE delivery.

In addition, many teachers found that the project improved the self esteem and self-confidence of participants and promoted a high level of engagement from disaffected students.

Lucinda Shaw, Director of The Deborah Hutton Campaign, said: “Building on the learning and results from this successful pilot, we are now working towards rolling out Cut Films as an annual competition for all schools from Autumn 2010, with the aim of inspiring many more young people to communicate with their peers on this important message about not smoking.”

For more information about The Deborah Hutton Campaign or to get involved in Cut Films, visit:  www.

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