September 26, 2012
The Irish Cancer Society has today re-iterated the high smoking prevalence in young people. Latest data published by the HBSC (Health Behaviour in School Aged Children) shows that overall 27% of children (aged 10-18 years) report that they have smoked and 12% of them say that they are current smokers. Smoking prevalence is especially evident in children from more socially disadvantaged areas.
In an effort to counteract this the Irish Cancer Society has partnered with the European Commission Ex- Smokers are Unstoppable campaign to offer an iCoach APP to young people through the Society’s X-HALE Youth Awards programme. Through X-HALE, the Society works with young people in 14 areas across the country to address the issue of smoking in their communities.
The Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable campaign launched in June 2010, is currently promoted by the EC across 27 States (please see www.exsmokers.eu). Overall it aims to provide smokers with motivation to quit and with practical help. It celebrates ex-smokers and portrays them as inspiring role models. The campaign is built around iCoach, an on-line interactive health coach that is available on www.stopsmokingcoach.eu, or available to download free to both Android and iTunes users.
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iCoach helps young people people quit smoking for good, but at their own pace. iCoach is easy to use, is personal to the user and works to help the young person think about quitting and to quit. The young smoker is initially presented with a brief questionnaire that determines his or her stage in a five phase stop smoking process.
iCoach guides the young smoker through a series of comprehensive interactive tools. It also provides tailored feedback, advice, techniques, tasks, as well as mini tests and sends the user daily email-tips as reminders and for motivation. At the end of each month, iCoach compiles a consultation report which gives an overview of the user’s progress until they reach the final phase.
The Irish Cancer Society X-HALE programme aims to empower young people to tackle the issue of smoking by supporting the development of positive youth-led projects in their communities. The youth leaders involved in the programme have identified the need to reduce the numbers of young people currently smoking by supporting them to quit. The approach is grounded in the belief that young people can work together to empower each other to quit and not to start smoking in the first place.
Speaking about the availability of the iCoach APP to young smokers, Kevin O'Hagan, Health Promotion Manager, Irish Cancer Society, said "The HBSC data shows that up to 22% of boys and 25% of girls aged 15-18 years report that they have tried cigarettes. Giving up smoking is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your health. We welcome a partnership with the EU Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable campaign and specifically the ability to offer something new, such as the iCoach APP to young smokers. We live in a 'digital communications, smart phone' age so we are confident that a free APP to assist young smokers in stubbing out their last cigarette will be well received and will assist in addressing current gaps in service provision for young smokers."
Angela Keogh, Community based Drugs worker with Carlow Regional Youth Services and Irish Cancer Society X-HALE Group Leader, said, "X-HALE has always been about promoting a positive and smoke free culture for young people. We want to empower young people to take ownership of their own health and make a commitment to smoke-free lifestyles. The more tools like the iCoach APP we have access to, the greater the chance that young smokers change their smoking habit and give quitting a go and the more likely they are to quit for good."
The iCoach APP will be promoted to young smokers through the 14 Irish Cancer Society X-HALE groups across the country in Dublin, Galway, Donegal, Carlow, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Limerick and which in turn aim to reach out to 16,000 young people this year. The APP will be showcased at the X-HALE Annual Expo on 30th October and at local X-HALE events.
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