A GROUP of Flint High School students are leading the way in helping to reduce the uptake of smoking among their peers, by training to become smoking prevention ambassadors.

The 20 students, all selected by their peers, have been taking part in the JustB SmokeFree programme, run by Public Health Wales.

Helen Jones, PSHE coordinator and science teacher, was prompted to sign up for the training programme after seeing research that showed smoking among young people is a group activity, and that one of the predictors of a young person taking up smoking is their peers' smoking behaviour.

She said: "It is amazing how engaged the students are and how much knowledge and facts they have retained from the initial two days of JustB SmokeFree training. They are a great group and we know how influential they will be among their peers in their role of helping to inform them about the risks of smoking and discouraging them from taking it up."

Student Rhys Hughes said: "The programme is really good. I've learned a lot about smoking and what it does to you, and the damaging chemicals that cigarettes contain."

Pupil Daisy Williams added: "I know so many facts about smoking now and I know how to start a conversation with someone about smoking and make them aware of the risks. I've really enjoyed it so far and have learned so much."

The JustB SmokeFree programme aims to reduce the rates of regular smokers among young people aged 12-13 (Year 8). Dedicated smoking prevention trainers work with influential students in order to disseminate new norms of behaviour through their already established friendship groups.

As well as becoming smoking prevention ambassadors, the programme helps students to develop their communication and teamwork skills.

Deanna Hughes, JustB smoking prevention trainer said: "We have been very impressed with the students at Flint High School. They have taken the training very seriously and shown a high degree of maturity. As a result of the training so far, their knowledge about smoking and the effects on health is evident. They have really gone out of their way to talk to their peers about the dangers of smoking. We could not have asked for a better outcome."

The benefits of the JustB SmokeFree programme extend far beyond smoking behaviour and contribute towards a whole school approach to promoting health and wellbeing. The programme aims to embed health and wellbeing within the ethos, culture and day-to-day life of the school. This promotes creating an environment that supports learning where new social norms are also encouraged.