Youth smoking tackled

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A campaign aimed at youngsters in mosques has begun to help stop underage smoking.

Owner of Dewsbury’s Westtown Newsagents Jazaib Khan and his son Haider Afzal, who manages the Rupyal Food-Store, are backing a campaign which educates Muslim children about the effects of smoking.

This involves police youth services officer PC Peter Whitehouse visiting mosques around Dewsbury to speak with Maddrassah pupils about the issue.

Since September, PC Whitehouse has spoken to nearly 700 children inside their places of worship.

He said: “My talks have come about from informationgiven by some local shopkeepers, as well as Mosque leaders, who have informed me about the problem of children going into shops and asking for what are known as separates – these are a small number of cigarettes taken out of broken down packets.”

“Imams in the community are taking this matter very seriously and the Kirklees Faith Network has come up with a wonderful idea of having leaflets, along with display posters, printed that explain to Muslim schoolchildren where their religion stands when it comes to smoking.”

Ten thousand leaflets which address smoking’s effects have been printed as part of the Kirklees Faith Network and West Yorkshire Poice partnership.

They are being distributed to the Maddrassah pupils while Peter Whitehouse is speaking to them but a larger version of the leaflet is also available for local mosques and shops to display in their windows.

Mr Khan said: “As confectionery shop owners, my son Haiderand I tend to serve a very diverse community that has lots of Muslim children who go to different high schools.”

“There are also a number of schools situated in easy walking distance from both shops, and we often get children coming in at lunchtime or first thing in the morning asking for separates.

“This is clearly very sad and disturbing, since the children also know where the law stands for shopkeepers when it comes to selling cigarettes to them.”

For more information about the campaign, email waseem.kirkleesfaithnetwork@hotmail.co.uk