Fenland and East Cambs Kick Ash students hope art exhibition at Central Library in Cambridge will help smokers get the message to quit as figures show one in four people still smoke in Fenland

Students show they are proud to be smoke free with graffiti exhibition. Featured in the image: Kick

Students show they are proud to be smoke free with graffiti exhibition. Featured in the image: Kick Ash Students, Cambridgeshire County Councillor David Jenkins, chairman of the health committee, Cambridgeshire County Councillor Tony Orgee, vice chairman of the health committee and Simon How, health and wellbeing programme leader, Public Health England – East of England - Credit: Archant

More than a quarter of people still smoke in Fenland and for those in manual jobs the figure is even higher according to latest statistics.

In Fenland the number of smokers is 26.4 per cent or just over one in four people - the highest in the county - in neighbouring East Cambs the number is 14.4 per cent, which is the third highest in the county. South Cambs has the fewest smokers at just 12.9 per cent.

County wide the number of people still lighting up is marginally less than the national figure - 16.4 per cent in Cambridgeshire and 16.9 per cent nationally.

But the figure for routine and manual workers the figure leaps to 39.8 per cent in Fenland and also rises in East Cambs with the number at 21.3 per cent.

This compares to a Cambridgeshire average of 27.2 per cent and a national average of 26.5 per cent.

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The figures were revealed to mark National No Smoking Day - Wednesday March 8 - and also coincided with an exhibition of art created by Kick Ash students from across the county, which runs at the Central Library in Cambridge until Tuesday (14).

The public exhibition has been especially put together by the students to celebrate the national campaign day, and to show their pride in being smoke free.

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Students who have taken their inspiration from graffiti artwork have been working closely with professional artist James Mayle and have come up with their own styles and stop smoking messages.

They also hope it will inspire smokers to consider the dangers of smoking, think twice about lighting up and to ultimately quit.

Kick Ash is a county-wide campaign led by young people who are proud to be smoke free. The students who are all aged 14 and 15 volunteer their time to become Kick Ash mentors. They take part in a variety of activities, including working with younger children about the dangers of smoking,

The project involved seven schools from across Cambridgeshire, including Witchford Village College, Cromwell Community College, St Peter’s School, Cottenham Village College, Longsands Academy, Swavesey Village College and Bottisham Village College.

Jovan Sahotta, 14, a student from Cromwell Community College, Chatteris, said: “I’ve really enjoyed the experience as it really has allowed us to express our creativity. It was great to meet people who share the same proud to be smoke free message.”

Brigitte McCormack, from CAMQUIT, said: “I’m really proud of what the mentors achieved in such a short space of time. It’s great to have such passionate and committed students who volunteer their time to the Kick Ash programme. By working together we hope to change young people’s perceptions of smoking.”

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