A non-smoking generation

‘’A class that manages to not smoke for a period of six months, has a chance to win a school trip”

This idea has been introduced by our state secretary Martin van Rijn (Volksgezondheid). Van Rijn wants to introduce a new campaign to stop young children from smoking.

Van Rijn hopes he can make a change with his project. Peer pressure is a big problem among youngsters nowadays. The campaign especially focuses on VMBO-students, this is because on average more children on the VMBO start smoking than any other school level.


The CBS released in 2014 the percentages of VMBO-students who ever tried smoking in their life. This percentage 32. There is a significant difference among  VWO students: just 16 percent. From the youngsters aged between 12 and 16, in 2013 33 percent has ever tried smoking. Meanwhile, this percentage has decreased to 23 percent. From all children aged between 12 and 16, 3 percent smokes on a daily basis. This percentage was 6 percent in 2011. The overall percentage of smoking youngsters is decreasing each year.

A not smoking generation?

According to our state secretary of health the purpose of the campaign is to keep young people away from smoking.

‘’Despite what people say, smoking cigarettes is very cool. Otherwise, why would teenagers smoke? Obviously, it’s not cool when you are older and you know better, but for teenagers, it’s the hippest thing! Because of this, and because of peer pressure, more and more young kids start smoking. Most teens think they will just smoke around their friends, and they can “quit whenever they want to”, but by the time they decide to quit, they are addicted, doomed to a life of nicotine. Plus, cigarettes are becoming easier and easier to obtain. Whether it’s older siblings, friends, or the local gas station that never asks for ID, if a teenager wants a cigarette, they are going to get one. The objective is to expand this project across the country. The final goal of the project is to create a non-smoking generation. Every day we get closer to our final goal: to bring the percentage of smoking children to zero percent”, said Van Rijn.

Currently, the campaign is being experimented with 120 VMBO classes. The campaign is held in four regions: Amsterdam, Friesland, Gelderland and Flevoland. The students have to attend a lecture of a medics professor regarding the risks of smoking tobacco. Students are also expected to create a promotion video on the benefits of being a non-smoker.

The campaign’s motto is  ‘road to non-smoking generation’ but the result of a teen not smoking also reduces the odds of youngsters to use alcohol and any other kind of drugs. Teens who smoke are three times more likely than non-smokers to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine. Smoking is associated with the cause of other behavior, such as fighting and engaging in unprotected sex.

My opinion

I think the campaign held by Van Rijn has a lot of potential. As stated above, 3 percent of VMBO students smoke on a daily basis. This number might not be big but after doing the math you can conclude that each class has one smoker. In the past many campaigns to prevent children to stop smoke have not succeed. I think giving the students a goal where they can aim for, makes it more fun and maybe even competitive for them. Hopefully, Van Rijn his campaign will learn teens the risks of smoking.

Mehrag Faiz





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