Cancer Prevention Month: Cigarettes are not the only enemy

Did you know that one puff of shisha equals one cigarette? This is one of many facts young people in Barnet have been learning over the past few months as part of the Cut Films Shisha Awareness campaign funded by Barnet Council.

Cut Films, our youth charity partner, has been delivering one-hour workshops and assemblies to year 8, 9, 10 and 11 students across the borough, educating over 4000 young people on the dangers of shisha smoking. The workshops are focused on the myths surrounding shisha smoking and the media’s normalization of it.

Practice, not preaching

Meanwhile, in Liverpool, Richmond and Hackney we’ve been working on delivering the flagship Cut Films project and will be working with over 25 organisations.

Previously, children had to sit through lectures about the perils of smoking and understandably, that just doesn’t work. Cut Films delivers those same messages in a far more interesting way whilst also teaching students transferable skills such as project management and teamwork as well as presentation, writing and communication skills.

The project trains young people in filmmaking skills, which they then apply in making their own short advert to convince their friends to not take up smoking. The films are then entered into a national competition and judged by a panel of local and national judges. You will be able to vote for your favourite in May.

As it’s Cancer Prevention Month, it’s vital that through our work young people understand the link between cigarettes and cancer, both through active and passive smoking. Young people are generally shocked to hear how many cases of lung cancer are related to smoking. They are also surprised to see how smoking increases your risk of many other cancers: mouth, throat, pancreatic among many others.

All our workshops open with a short quiz on tobacco awareness and one of the questions focuses on how many chemicals are in one cigarette, a staggering 4000. Our youth workers make it clear that it is these chemicals that are causing cancer when you smoke. From tar, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, arsenic and lead to radon and polonium 210 to name but a few.

Another new project for us this year is Look After your Lungs, which is being delivered to schools across the North West. This project is a series of assemblies educating young people on optimal lung health. It includes information about smoking, healthy living, lung cancer, COPD and the media’s normalization of smoking.

The assembly format is a game show where young people are on teams and buzz in to answer questions. This creates a fun, slightly competitive, environment that young people find engaging. The workshop also includes a take-home magazine with quizzes to test their parents as well as a free USB which includes the impactful Cut Films entry ‘Queensbury Anti-Smoking Film’.

Cut Films, the award winning smoking prevention project from Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is currently running projects in Liverpool, Richmond, Barnet, Wychavon and Hackney. The project has recently featured in the Health & Education Journal. To find out more about our Cut Films projects, please email education@roycastle.org.

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