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Wednesday, July 15, 1998 Published at 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK


Dial 911 for some respect

911: Smoking makes you smell

One of the UK's top boy bands has joined a government campaign to stop teenagers smoking.

911, who have had four top 10 singles and a gold-selling album, have told their fans to give cigarettes a miss.

Lee, Spike and Jimmy have lent their support to Respect, a Department of Health initiative designed to give 11- to 15-year-olds factual information on smoking and health.

"Why on earth would you want to smoke?" the boys said.

"It costs a fortune and you smell terrible - we can't see the attraction!

"We hate people smoking around us, especially when we're about to go on stage. It's an anti-social habit, so don't do it".

Smoking decline

Teenage smoking has become a major concern for health education officials.

Currently, one in three 15-year-olds smoke. It has also been calculated that 450 teenagers start smoking every day. Whereas adult smoking has declined dramatically over the years, campaigners have had less success with youngsters, especially girls.

Public Health Minister, Tessa Jowell said, "Over the last two years Respect has reached over 270,000 teenagers, supplying them with facts, figures and advice on smoking. This year we expect to reach a further million.

"When you consider that one in four teenagers smoked in 1992 and that one in three smoke now, there is no doubt that a pro-active campaign like RESPECT is needed."

Cigarette costs

Respect has tried to dissuade young people from taking up the habit by emphasising the costs of smoking.

Young smokers spend a staggering £100m per year on cigarettes and 70% of 11 to 15-year-old smokers buy more than 20 cigarettes a week, burning up over £14 of pocket money a month.

There is a Respect roadshow touring the country with fun challenges such as racing bikes to test physical ability and a light wall that measures mental alertness.

The challenges are designed to encourage teenagers to interact and then look at how smoking can affect their performance, as well as their health.

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