How can I stop someone from smoking?

Tobacco: This is how young people can be stopped from smoking

“I found my first cigarette in the bushes and then smoked it because I wanted to look adult.” Andreas Köpke, who had lung cancer, quietly describes to his young listeners at the Eppendorf University Medical Center (UKE) in Hamburg how he became a chain smoker at the age of 15. Today Köpke is 41 years old. “But I feel like I'm 70 or 80,” the craftsman explains to the 9 to 13 year old students. His cancer has spread, vertebrae had to be stiffened and now the chemo: "I feel incredibly tired."

"Not smoking is cool" is the name of the project at the UKE, with which doctors want to keep children in fourth to seventh grades from smoking, also with a reflection of a lung that shows the cancer just as drastically as chunks of tar in the slimy secretion. “That is what the smokers cough up in the morning,” says Prof. Eckart Laack, co-initiator of the project, to the moaning children in the lecture hall. Doctors and patients have already warned more than 32,000 schoolchildren from Hamburg, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Lower Saxony of the deadly dangers of tobacco.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also believes that unsparing education is the right way to go. She has therefore put the motto of World No Tobacco Day on May 31st "A picture is worth a thousand words". Every year, 140,000 people across Germany die prematurely from the effects of smoking, for example from heart attacks and strokes. 3300 are victims of passive smoking.

Laack explains the statistics to his young listeners in clear terms: “Every day 400 people in Germany die as a result of smoking. It's as if a large passenger plane crashes every day. ”The students know that smokers are somehow different:“ They often smell funny ”or“ They're wrinkled ”. But the fact that cigarette smoke contains at least 70 carcinogenic substances, only one in ten lung cancer patients survives and the consumption of a water pipe is equivalent to smoking 100 filterless cigarettes all of this makes the students fall silent or shout “Oh God!”.

There are similar projects in Heidelberg, Kaiserslautern and near Bonn. Close-up pictures of smoker's legs and clogged arteries, tumors, how do children process such impressions? “Only a few students left the hall at the events that we have been offering every Thursday for four years,” reports Laack. According to the doctor, it is important to have adequate preparation and follow-up work at school.

“A visit to a clinic and the descriptions of the patients are not a shock, but a natural process in life. That makes you think, "says Martina Pötschke-Langer from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. The education must also start so early. Because of the 12 to 17-year-olds already about 15 per cent had cigarettes in 2008. "In 2001 it was even 28 percent," reports the expert. One of the reasons for the decline is that smoking has become more expensive.

When dealing with the seriously ill Andreas Köpke, the children show no fear of contact and want to know from him, for example, whether friends have stopped smoking after his cancer diagnosis and whether the tobacco smoke is actually burning in your throat. Köpke patiently and gently answers all questions. Only at the end does he make a serious appeal to the students: “Don't you just start smoking! It doesn't taste good, it costs a lot and it ruins your health. "