Campaign to tackle underage smoking among young Muslims

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A new campaign to tackle underage smoking among young Muslims across the district has been launched.

A series of talks, which aim to deter youngsters from smoking at an early age, is being run by West Yorkshire Police as part of the campaign.

Kirklees Faith Network Initiative, a community group that promotes religious awareness in schools and mosques, helped organise the sessions.

Youth services officer Peter Whitehouse has so far led presentations to more than 500 Maddrassah pupils across Dewsbury.

A spokesman for Kirklees Faith Network Initiative said: “Peter Whitehouse is well known for his work in our local schools.

“His talks in our mosques help to reinforce that same powerful anti-smoking message given inside the school classrooms.

“It must be pointed out this issue of underage smoking affects both white English and Muslim schoolchildren, especially those who are in years nine, 10 and 11.

“It is a major problem for our high schools and their surrounding neighbourhoods.”

The community group is printing leaflets to give youngsters information on what Islam teaches about smoking and advice about the harmful effects it can have on health.

Mr Whitehouse will lead sessions in Batley and the Spen Valley as part of the campaign.

Mosques visited so far include Gulzar-E-Medina Jamia Mosque in Westtown, Anwar-E-Medina Jamia Mosque in Ravensthorpe, Faizan-E-Medina Jamia, Mohaddis-E-Azam Mission and Madani Jamia mosques in Dewsbury Moor.

The new campaign has been backed by fashion model Aaqib Zahoor, who is from Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury.

Mr Zahoor, who attended one of the sessions, said the talks had a “powerful impact”.

He said: “As someone who was also a Maddrassah pupil and attended a local Mosque not so long ago, I can still clearly remember the visits made by Peter Whitehouse as well as the powerful impact of his talks.

“His words have stayed with me to this very day.”

“This is why I am fully supporting this project and I strongly feel these anti-smoking talks are very important and need to be given in our local Mosques and schools.

“There’s more to life than smoking cigarettes.”

For more information about the campaign, visit www.kirkleesfaithnetwork.org.uk