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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Patches help children kick habit
The children have to have consent from their parents and GP
Children as young as 14 are being given nicotine patches to help them stop smoking in County Durham .

Health worker Jaimie Battye and school nurse Moya White have been running the scheme after teenagers approached them for help to kick the habit.

Four 14-year-old girls from Greencroft School, in Annfield Plain, have been helped to give up this summer.

Before they start, teenagers have to admit they are smokers to their parents and be given their permission.

They must also have their GP's backing to join the scheme.

The project is part of the government-backed Sure Start scheme, which awards cash for health and education initiatives.

'Phenomenal benefit'

Miss Battye, who works for the Sure Start scheme, in Stanley said the teenagers approached her after they had seen information about the dangers of tobacco.

She said: "The health benefits of stopping when they have not been smoking long are phenomenal."

Amanda Sandford, spokeswoman for anti-tobacco group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said: "I think in certain circumstances it seems quite reasonable to offer these patches to children if they are clearly showing signs of addiction.

"If they genuinely want to stop smoking they should be given that support. There is no reason they shouldn't be given the same support as adults."

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' lobby group Forest, said: "It sounds quite reasonable, as long as it isn't being forced on them, if they have asked for help in quitting.

"I don't think anyone wants to see children smoking. It sounds like they are being quite sensible."

Children given nicotine patches
07 Oct 03  |  Devon

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