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Poots discusses health with pupils

The Health Minister has taken part in a public health discussion with year 14 pupils from Regent House Grammar School in Newtownards.
Monday, 19 November 2012

The Minister answered questions on a range of public health issues, including alcohol, smoking, obesity and sexual health. He also listened to the opinions of the Health and Social Care pupils on how these issues should be tackled.

Mr Poots said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to take part in a discussion about health with this group of young people. It is vital that we get messages about public health issues across to children and young people and it is very encouraging to see such an interest being taken in these areas. If we can encourage young people to have a healthy lifestyle it will have a major impact on their future health and wellbeing.”

The Minister said that his Department and the Public Health Agency are committed to improving the overall health of the population. He also said that while much good work is taking place, more needs to be done to reduce the levels of harm caused by issues such as smoking, obesity and alcohol and drug misuse.

Mr Poots said: “Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in Northern Ireland, killing approximately 2,300 people here each year. Around 8% of our 11 to 16 year olds smoke regularly. This is around 13,500 children. My Department aims to prevent young people from taking up the smoking habit and to encourage and support smokers to quit.”

He continued: “Alcohol and drug misuse also remains a key public health issue. I believe that Minimum Unit Pricing is a way of making sure alcohol is sold at a sensible price. This has the potential to reduce the level of alcohol misuse here – particularly among young people and problem drinkers.”

On the issue of obesity, the Minister told the pupils: “Obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Preventing the rise of obesity will help reduce related issues such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.”

Notes to editors:

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