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Shisha pipe is worrying trend bubbling up among the young in Islington

PUBLISHED: 07:09 27 March 2012

Deborah Hutton

Deborah Hutton

Archant

Idea it is safer form of smoking a myth, say NHS experts.

An NHS expert has stressed the importance of breaking young smokers’ addiction early and highlighted shisha smoking as a worrying new trend.

In Islington, 5.9 per cent of girls aged 11-15 smoke and four per cent of boys, figures from NHS North Central London reveal. A total of 25 per cent of adults smoke in the borough overall – the second highest rate amongst adults in London.

The Deborah Hutton Campaign, launched last month by the Gazette – along with parent company Archant’s sister newspapers – is working to stop young people picking up the habit.

Inspired by journalist Deborah Hutton who died from lung cancer 25 years after she gave up smoking, the campaign encourages creative young people to make films about smoking.

Marina Chrysou, Smokefree project officer at Whittington Health, which runs the Whittington Hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway, said it was vital to focus on young people.

“Most smokers start smoking before the age of 18,” she said.

“Smoking is one of the main reasons for chronic health conditions and reduced life expectancy and Islington is one of the borough’s with the highest smoking rates.

“So it’s essential that we give support to young people to stop smoking before they start feeling the effects of smoking on their health and their quality of life.

“Young people start smoking for various reasons and often they are unaware of the risks of smoking.

“They are often more susceptible to peer pressure and they see messages within popular culture which glamorise smoking, or their parents smoke.

“It’s very important that we educate them and inform them about the risks to their health and give them the support that is available to stop while they are still young.”

Shisha, also known as hookah or hubble-bubble, is fast becoming a separate health issue in Islington.

Containing tobacco, it is addictive and can lead users to smoke cigarettes.

Ms Chrysou said: “We know that it is becoming more prevalent amongst young people in Islington and across London as it is becoming more fashionable and popular.

“But very often young people are unaware of the risks associated with shisha.

“There are many myths around it such as it is a safer form of smoking. This is not the case at all. We know from international studies it is linked to lung cancer and other cancers.

“And shisha smoking has as many dangers in terms of health as cigarette smoking.

“When young people gather together to smoke shisha they put themselves at risk.”

She added: “One of the key things is to prevent young people from starting smoking in the first place and to motivate them to quit if they have started smoking already.

“Smoking tobacco creates an addiction to nicotine that is extremely hard to break but it is possible.”

Smokefree Islington works with schools and colleges to raise awareness of the dangers of all types of smoking.

n For information on stopping smoking, visit http://www.smokefreeislington.nhs.uk/stop-smoking-services/ or contact Islington NHS Stop Smoking Service on 0800 093 9030 or stop-smoking-islington.whitthealth@nhs.net


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