It's illegal for you to buy them. They cost a fortune. They're bad for your health. Wish you could stop?


The law says you can't buy tobacco products because of your age. 

They're seriously expensive as well. It's getting harder to find places you're allowed to smoke anyway.

That means you either have to get someone else to buy them for you even if you've got the money, or if you're really desperate or completely skint you might even be nicking the money or the fags, not to mention spending half your time looking for somewhere to have a puff.

Good enough reasons to want to stop?

(and that's all without considering the effects on your health).

The legal stuff

Since 1 October 2007 it is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under 18 years of age – this includes cigarettes, cigars, roll-your-own and pipe tobacco as well as cigarette rolling papers - over the counter or by a vending machine. Anyone selling any of these products to someone under 18 years of age risks a fine of £2,500. Responsibility for upholding the minimum age laws rests entirely with retailers and their shop staff, so they should always ask for ID - no ID, no sale - you risk a row if you are under 18 and even ask, and they risk getting into serious trouble if they serve you.

The practical stuff

There are fewer and fewer places you can smoke these days. It's now against the law to smoke in almost every enclosed public space in the UK. This includes:

  • cafes and restaurants
  • shopping centres
  • railway stations

The statistical stuff

Children of parents who smoke are more likely to smoke themselves than other children, but according to new studies, the genders of those involved can make all the difference. Recent investigations have found that smoking habits are generally passed from mother to daughter, and from father to son, rather than from other configurations.

The health stuff

Smoking is the single biggest cause of cancer in the world, and accounts for one in four UKcancer deaths. In the UK, smoking kills five times more people than road accidents, overdoses, murder, suicide and HIV all put together(Cancer ResearchUK). It's been estimated that people who start smoking at 15 years are three times more likely to die from cancer than someone who starts in their twenties ( People that smoke are at a greater risk of developing cancer, emphysema, heart disease and are more likely to have problems with their fertility. There are also other physical effects of smoking that happen no matter how old you are, which are not killers but not particularly nice,  including:

  • damaged tastebuds
  • ageing of the skin
  • stained teeth
  • smelly clothes

The scary stuff

What's inside a cigarette? Find out the facts from quitbecause.

This video The Dirty Truth about Smoking was made by young people :

The image stuff

Read what some male celebrities think about girls who smoke.

It isn't cool and it isn't sexy. 

It makes you stink, makes your teeth yellow and gives you wrinkles! See a projection of how smoking might alter your appearance in the NHS video :

You may be pressured into starting by some of your friends, you may want to copy older relatives who smoke or you may just be curious about what it's like. Whatever sort of pressure you're put under, it's a lot easier to say no than taking up the habit and trying to give up after years of regular smoking. Understand how peer pressure works and how to resist it.

The financial stuff

It costs a lot of money. If you get through 10 cigarettes a day, it costs more than £1,000 every year. Think of all the stuff you could buy with that money! The NHS cost calculator tells you how much in terms of moneyAND health. If you need the incentive of a bit of girly shopping with the money you save, read stop smoking, start shopping.

The stuff which isn't true

Explode the myths -  including that it's easy to quit.

Are you addicted?

Be honest with yourself. Take the Smokefree test.


It has to be your decision and you should make it based on all the information you can get. It's not about right or wrong. Smoking isn't a certain death sentence - but the evidence suggests strongly you are taking big and avoidable chances with your health. Stop for your own good reasons and not someone else's judgment on you. But you can be encouraged and inspired by hearing from other people who managed to quit. Read some of their stories and watch their videos here.

The Kick Ash project is a local Cambridgeshire venture to educate young people, encourage them to help each other stop (or not to start) smoking and to recruit them to mentor younger kids who are at a vunerable age. Hear about how young people are helping each other in your area:  

They've even got an online agony aunt to hep with your queries!

Quitbecause help young people of all ages make informed choices about tobacco use and provide support and advice to those who want to stop smoking.

NHS Choices gives you 7 reasons to stop and 8 ways to help yourself do it in their under 18's guide to quitting smoking.

The Timeline video explains what changes happen and how fast your body recovers, after you stop smoking :

How to quit

If you've decided to go it a go, you might need some help.

Some people stop, just like that. But they're rare. You shouldn't feel bad if you find it hard. Most people need something.

SmokefreeNHS suggest ways to quit, including if this is your first time trying, or if you've tried and failed before. Get a free Quit kit.

Join a local group. You will be 4 times more likely to succeed compared to going it alone. Find out where and what to expect.

Camquit is the NHS service for Cambridgeshire. Find out where you can get support to stop smoking at doctors' surgeries and local pharmacies. Call  FREE 0800 018 4304 .

The helpline for Peterborough is 0800 3765655, 9am-5pm, with an answerphone for out of hours.

Get support at home by post, text, email or phone with the Smokefree Together programme.

Help over the phone

The National Health Service (NHS) runs a smoking helpline that helps thousands of people quit every year. The helpline can give you advice if you're finding giving up tough and has details of support groups in your area that you might want to join. The number is 0800 169 0 169, all calls are free and it's open from 7am to 11pm.

Smokefree helpline: Call to speak to a trained, expert adviser for free on  FREE 0800 022 4 332  Lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5pm. They can also help in the following languages :

  • Urdu -  Free 0800 169 0 881 
  • Punjabi -  Free 0800 169 0 882 
  • Hindi -  Free 0800 169 0 883 
  • Gujarati -  Free 0800 169 0 884 
  • Bengali -  Free 0800 169 0 885 

Patches and gum

Cigarette patches work by releasing a slow stream of nicotine into your blood that stops your craving while you get out of the habit of lighting up. Wearing a patch or chewing gum can help you get over your cravings, but it won't damage your health in the way cigarettes do. There are different types available depending on how many you smoke every day.You can also get chewing gum that releases nicotine into your body through the lining of your mouth.You can buy patches and gum from most chemists, or your doctor may be able to write you a prescription. Always check with your doctor before you start using any nicotine replacement products.

Other tools for quitting

Find out how to download the Quit app for your phone, and stress-busting MP3 10 minute trainers.

Alternative therapies

If you are considering hypnotherapy, acupuncture, emotional freedom therapy or something else alternative, get advice first and make sure you check out which are reputable therapists or practitioners - the British Complementary Medicine Association website tells you what you need to know and has a directory of members in your area. You may also need the permission of, or even to be accompanied by, an adult.

The page was last updated on 02 July 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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