Press release

All children really want this Christmas is their parents to quit smoking

New research lifts lid on kids’ anti smoking attitudes

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


New research lifts lid on kids’ anti smoking attitudes

Children are so concerned about the impact of smoking on their parent’s health that they’d go to considerable lengths to get them to give up, including: going without Christmas presents; giving up their pocket money; and even committing to complete their homework every night according to new research published today.

The research, which was conducted on behalf of Department of Health, reveals the anti smoking stance of a new smokefree generation of kids who are so opposed to cigarettes they’ve labelled smoking stupid, say they will never try a cigarette and that they wish that nobody in the world smoked.

Key findings include:
• Over half (54%) of children with a parent who smokes say that their one wish for Christmas is that their Mum or Dad give up smoking.
• Almost all (98%) children with a smoking parent wish that they would quit  
• Almost three quarters (73%) of children with a smoking parent worry about the risk of their parent dying. A further 58% worry about the risk of heart disease.
• 94% of children surveyed thought smoking was either stupid (52%) or dangerous (42%).
• 88% of children surveyed wished nobody in the world smoked. 90% say they have never tried a cigarette, and 91% say they never will. 93% wouldn’t want their own children smoking, when they grow up.
• When it comes to what children would do to get their parents to quit, over a third (37%) would go without any Christmas presents; over half (59%) would give up pocket money; and 7 out of ten would commit to doing their homework every night (78%)  and going to bed when told (76%).
•  Almost a third of children surveyed (29%) admitted to hiding their parents’ cigarettes in a desperate attempt to help them quit.

The research, which polled 1,000 children in England aged 7-13 , coincides with the launch of a second wave of a Department of Health advertising campaign aimed at getting loved ones to quit smoking. It features real children, not actors, talking about how worried they are about their parents’ smoking. The adverts then invite parents to take the first step towards quitting by ordering a free Quit Kit online or by texting KIT to 63818.

NHS smokefree ambassador and TV star Linda Robson, said:

“Having seen my own Dad die from lung cancer aged 57, there’s no way I wanted to put my own children through that experience. The thought of my kids visiting me in hospital was a strong motivation for me and since I decided to quit, my three kids have been a huge support.

“There are times now when I still want to reach for a cigarette, but for my own health and for the benefit of my family I’m committed to staying smokefree. Since quitting I feel much better about myself. I’m feeling healthier, I have more energy and everyone is commenting on how good my skin looks. Knowing that my children are much happier since I stopped is also really important.

“It can be hard to quit, but by ordering a new Quit Kit and getting free expert help from the NHS you can make sure that you give yourself the best chance of success, in time to give you and your family the best Christmas present they could get.”

Anne Milton, Public Health Minister said:

“What’s clear from the research is that children really want their parents to give up smoking. It’s not easy to give up, but we hope the campaign will give people that extra bit of encouragement they need to quit.”

“Around half of all regular smokers are eventually killed by a smoking related illness. Quitting smoking can be tough, but it can be made easier by using help from the NHS by visiting or calling 0800 085 5052 and taking advantage of the free advice and support available.”

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) said:

“Evidence shows that smokers need to be motivated to quit and need advice on how to quit.  This campaign does both.  Smokers may also find it easier to stop smoking not for their own sake but for the sake of their children or other members of their family.”

To order your Quit Kit visit the NHS Smokefree website or text KIT to 63818. For help and advice about quitting call the NHS helpline on 0800 085 5052.

Notes to Editors

1. For media queries please contact DH Press Office on 020 7210 5221 or Blue Rubicon on 020 7260 2700

2. Dubit conducted an online survey with 1,000 young people (aged 8-13) across the nine regions of England. All participants who took part in the survey had stated in a pre-screener question that at least one of their parents/guardians smokes. The survey took place between 13th-17th October 2011 on behalf of the Department of Health.

3. An Mpeg video of the adverts, a set of still images and high quality Jpegs of the new poster campaign are available for download.

This video is in an MPEG-1 format, which should be compatible with a wide range of media players, such as Windows Media Player and Realplayer.

Alternatively we can send you a straightforward attachment of 5MB - please contact Blue Rubicon on 020 7260 2766.

4. Case studies of children and their parents as well as stop smoking advisers are also available for interview - please contact Blue Rubicon on 020 7260 2700.

5. What’s in a Quit Kit?
The NHS Quit Kit has been developed by experts together with smokers and ex-smokers and contains practical tools and advice to help smokers quit smoking for good. Items  include a health/wealth wheel which helps quitters calculate how much they are saving and the improvements they’ll see to their health; a quitting planner which helps quitters identify smoking triggers and offers tips on managing cravings; MP3 downloads which are scientifically proven to reduce cravings; a wall chart to map your progress and a ‘tangle’ toy t help keep hands busy. The Quit Kit also contains information on other free quitting help such as local Stop Smoking Services.

6. Background facts:
• There are over 8 million smokers in England
• Smoking is still the biggest cause of premature death and preventable disease in England - bigger than the next 6 causes put together
• Smoking kills 80,000 people a year. Around half of all smokers will eventually die because of a smoking related illness.
• Smoking costs the NHS £2.7bn a year.

Published 1 November 2011