; The Youth Worker's Role

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The Youth Worker's Role in Smoking Prevention

The Code of Ethics for Community Learning and Development clearly highlight how important it is for youth work organisations and youth workers to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of the young people that they work with and support:

Ethic 5: Duty of Care

“We will avoid exposing our constituents to the likelihood of harm or injury”

Ethic 11: Self-awareness

“We should be conscious of our own values and interests, and approach cultural and other difference respectfully.  While the need to challenge may arise, we must first try to understand.”

Ethic 13: Self-care

“CLD Practice should be consistent with preserving the health of CLD workers”.

In addition, Scotland's National Youth Work Strategy, Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) highlight that youth work organisations and youth workers have a vital role to play in supporting and nurturing young people to make healthy life decisions as they make the transition into adulthood, employment, training and further education.

Beyond the Code of Ethics for Community Learning and Development and other key strategies that shape community youth work, it is important to also recognise that:

  • Scotland continues to have a 36 a day tobacco habit. Every day in Scotland, 36 young people become new smokers. That’s over 13,000 young people each year.
  • Evidence shows that the younger a person starts to smoke, the more likely they are to continue smoking into adulthood, the more heavily they are likely to smoke as an adult and the more lilely they are to fall ill and die early as a result of smoking.
  • Almost all long-term smokers take up smoking as a young person.  Around two thirds of smokers in the UK start smoking before the age of 18 and over a third (40%) start before they are 16.
  • Young people from the most deprived areas progress to regular smoking more rapidly that those in the least deprived areas.

Under such circumstances, actively supporting, promoting and developing tobacco prevention activities, projects and policies simply needs to be seen as fundamental to the role of all community youth groups and all youth workers.

To find out more about developing an effective health promoting tobacco policy for your youth organisation, take a look at our tobacco policy support guide


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