Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Our Services A - Z :

You are here: Home Page > Health and Social Care > Bedford Borough JSNA > Developing Well > Smoking (Young People)

Smoking (Young People)


This chapter considers smoking in young people aged under 19.   Smoking in pregnancy, and tobacco control and smoking in adults are considered separately.

Tobacco remains the main cause of preventable morbidity and premature death in England and Bedford Borough. Beyond the well-recognised effects on health, tobacco also plays a role in perpetuating poverty, deprivation and health inequalities. Smoking is the most important cause of premature death and a major factor to the mortality divide between the most deprived areas in Bedford Borough and Bedfordshire as a whole.    

Nationally some 80% of people start smoking as teenagers and it can be presumed that this will be the same for smokers who live in  Bedford Borough.


Facts, Figures, Trends

Young people smoking and prevention

It is estimated that each year around 207,000 children in the UK start smoking (Hopkinson, NS et al 2013). The 2011 General Lifestyle Survey of adult smokers revealed that almost two-fifths (40%) had started smoking regularly before the age of 16 and 80% of all adult smokers started before they were 20 years old (Robinson et al 2010).


Smoking prevalence is dropping among children. The prevalence of regular smoking increases with age, from less than 0.5% of 11 year olds to 8% of 15-year olds; girls are more likely to smoke than boys (ICHSC, 2014). Children with at least one parent who smokes are 72% more likely to smoke in adolescence. If both parents smoke, children are four times more likely to start smoking than if neither parent smokes (Passive smoke and children, 2010).


Efforts to stop children taking up smoking are much less effective for children when smoking is seen as a norm. The best way to stop children from smoking is to get those around them, particularly their parents, to quit.


National & Local Strategies (Best Practices)

The government is imminently due to release the next set of national ambitions.


The Department of Health recommends that an effective tobacco control approach to smoking in young people should incorporate education methods that de-normalise smoking as a habit, young people specific treatment services and enforcement of regulations.


Local Data

5-19 year olds represent 25% of the total estimated Bedford Borough population (ONS, 2014).

Stop Smoking support is available across Bedford Borough for young people in:

  • GP Practices
  • Schools via School Nurses
  • Community venues


Current Activity – Prevention

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is available to young people aged 12 and above. Any child that presents with a tobacco addiction can access the Specialist Service and will be supported accordingly. School Nurses have been trained to deliver intermediate interventions to children who want to quit and referral in to the specialist service.


During 2015 the Stop Smoking Service supported Healthwatch with their peer teaching scheme.  There were approximately 20 students (Youth Ambassadors) who received training. The Youth Ambassadors - a group of Y11/Y12 students undertook Making Every Contact Count (MECC) training and L1 Stop Smoking training in order to deliver key health messages to their peers in Bedford Borough Schools.


The aim of the training was for Youth Ambassadors to feel confident  to go into schools and deliver key public health messages around stopping smoking, and to initiate discussion with their peers about lifestyle and signposting to supporting services if and when appropriate. Although the service did not receive any additional referrals during this period however this is not necessarily indicative of success. If this is to be repeated a more robust recording mechanism for qualitative data must be in place to determine effectiveness.


The service is currently reviewing work with schools in relation to Tobacco Control and setting out sustainable plans.


What are the unmet needs/ service gaps?

Ensure schools understand the importance of their role in supporting young people to stop smoking, how to raise the issue and make the most of every contact. The implementation of a toolkit which schools can utilise and tailor to their needs will improve the understanding surrounding roles and responsibilities. This toolkit is currently in development and will raise the profile of smoking cessation in schools.


Back to top

To print a PDF version of the Tobacco Control and Smoking chapter, please click  here