Germany has launched an initiative to turn young people off the smoking habit just as a Europe-wide project is set to begin. Thousands of students across the country will force themselves not to light up for six months, and keep a daily diary of the results.
“I wanted to stop by myself but was never really motivated. This programme gives me a chance to try,” said one student. Although figures suggest the number of school children who drink and smoke has fallen in Germany over the last two years, health experts say nothing can be taken for granted.
“We think that there’s increasing peer pressure on young people to smoke so we wanted to create a positive atmosphere in class, to say it’s not just the individual that counts,” says Stephan Kiesling, regional health director. With less than ten percent of students having smoked during the last six months, officials say they are encouraged by the results but there is still lots to do.