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« Sunday run | Main | Beware anti-smoking campaigners and their siren pro-vaping voices »

Irony alert as ASH Wales calls failure to reduce Year 11 smoking rates ‘shocking’

This went under the radar this week but I can’t not comment on it.

On Wednesday BBC Wales reported that:

A recent survey of thousands of Year 11 pupils suggested the percentage who smoke regularly in Wales - about 9% - has not fallen since 2013-14, with the rate among poorer teenagers rising.

ASH Wales said this was "shocking" and called for a more targeted approach.

What you need to know is that the five-year period in question (2013-2018) coincided with what was possibly the worst anti-smoking initiative I have ever seen, worse perhaps than PMI’s excoriating ‘Unsmoke’ campaign.

It was a project moreover that was targeted directly at teenagers in Wales including the Year 11 age group.

You may remember it. It was called The Filter and it was described as Wales' only dedicated youth stop smoking service.

Launched in 2013 with £850,000 of Big Lottery funding, The Filter was kept afloat with additional funding from the Welsh Government.

Thankfully it shut down in March 2018 after five years.

The Filter's Twitter account no longer exists so none of their crass and infantile tweets have survived, but I've managed to dig up a few Forest tweets that will give you a taste of what it was like following them:

Thankfully for taxpayers the financial tap was turned off last year sparing followers from any more puerile rubbish.

There is however a delicious irony that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Filter project was run by ASH Wales, the same group that now says it is "shocking" that the smoking rate for Year 11 pupils in Wales hasn’t dropped since 2013.

Instead of acknowledging their own part in this “shocking” failure, however, ASH Wales want a return to the ‘targeted approach’ that failed so dismally last time.

If the Welsh Government does go down that route, let’s hope they don’t put ASH Wales in charge.

Btw, Forest was also quoted in the BBC Wales' report but they cut the second paragraph. The full quote read:

“The best way to reduce smoking rates among teenagers is a combination of education and stiffer penalties for shopkeepers who sell cigarettes to children and adults who proxy purchase.

“The reality however is that some teenagers will always experiment with cigarettes, just as they do with alcohol, and although this should be discouraged the government must be careful not to overreact by introducing measures that will hit adult smokers and discriminate against poorer families.”

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