World Tobacco Day 2019 and Discovering What Children can Do To Prevent Smoking

6 June, 2019

On World Tobacco Day May 31st 2019, we were thinking again on how to work with older children and young adolescents (10-14 years) on this topic. This is an age and stage where there is a very real possibility they can take up the smoking habit. But they are also at an age where they can influence others with health information and be both a carer to and a role model to other children. Investing in adolescent health generates a ‘triple dividend’ as described in The Global Strategy for Women, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health 2016-2030.

We believe in simple health messages for children to learn and share. This is not all that we would do but it’s a start. Messages provide a kind of scaffolding to construct a specific curriculum (messages and activities).

We think a good set of messages for children and young people would include topics such as:

· The harms of smoking

· The health risks from smoking, and

· Anti-smoking laws

· In addition we would include messages on:

· The benefits of not smoking

· Why people begin to smoke

· Why children like smoking

· The costs of smoking

· Passive smoking harms babies and others

· Smoking harming the environment

Co-creation in a Participatory Inquiry

Part of the process of creating, developing and testing messages and other content would be the involvement of groups of children, health professionals and educators in a participatory inquiry and then checking all the content with medical experts. At Children for Health we have decades of experience setting up and managing these inquiries with different groups of adults and children on all sorts of health topics. It is important to observe how the content is landing and what it takes for children and adolescents and their educators to help make changes as a result of what they have discussed.

Another key feature of the Children for Health process is to organise children's activities into three ‘stages’:

· Understanding

· Action and

· Reflection.

This is best done alongside the children and adults once we have clarified how, where and when the content is to be used.

In additional to the topic specific content there is also the life skills related content to be considered and content for teachers on the differences between what we would regard as a ‘standard’ health education approach and an approach that promotes participation and empowerment. Our approach to promote participation has been tested numerous times with practitioners in the field and the approach used with topics as diverse as ‘nutrition’ and ‘diarrhoea prevention and control’. The Rainbow Flower is one of the training tools we have developed. The approach offers a way to promote participation from the bottom up.

More information

Please click the link below if you would like to access our content and activities for a ‘No Tobacco’ programme aimed at: children and young adolescents directly; parents; and health and education workers to use as resources materials in a class/group/clinic setting.

Children for Health Guide to Help Children Understand Smoking and to Prevent Them From Starting To Smoke.

We would love to hear from you if you have any ideas on how we can improve this work or if you have ideas of those we should be in touch with tto develop it further.

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HIFA profile: Clare Hanbury qualified as a teacher in the UK and began her career teaching 6-13 year old children in schools in Kenya and Hong Kong. For many years, Clare worked for The Child-to-Child Trust based at the University of London's Institute of Education where, alongside Hugh Hawes and Professor David Morley she worked to help embed the Child-to-Child ideas of children's participation in health into government and non-government child health and education programmes in numerous countries. Clare has continued to work to promote these ideas as a freelance adviser and trainer. She has worked in East and Southern Africa, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Yemen. In 2013, Clare founded Children for Health, a British Registered Charity that provides accurate engaging health information for those working or living with children and inspiring them to use fun methods to mobilise children as health activists in their families and communities. Clare is a member of the CHIFA Steering Group ( and the HIFA Working Group on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children. Email: clare.hanbury AT