DOZENS of children in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole used an NHS service to try and quit smoking during the coronavirus pandemic, figures reveal.

The charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said the stress of lockdown likely affected young people, as figures show they were the least successful age group to kick the habit across England.

NHS Digital data shows 24 under-18s in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole set a date to quit using the NHS Stop Smoking Service between April last year and March.

At follow-up meetings held a month later, three said they had given up.

The previous year, two smokers under the age of 18 successfully quit, out of 16 who set a target date.

Of the 1,700 child smokers looking to kick the habit across England last year, 45 per cent reported quitting.

Though up from 41 per cent the previous year, it was still the lowest success rate of any category, and well behind the 61 per cent of people aged 60 and over who achieved the same.

Jo Wilson, Public Health Dorset’s Head of Programmes said: “We are pleased to hear that those younger residents who are smoking are looking to quit.

“If you are under 18 and are looking to quit smoking please contact your GP or the free school nursing service ChatHealth. Both can help and guide you to stop smoking.

“Anyone over 18 wanting to give up smoking can get free support from LiveWell Dorset.”

In Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, 36 per cent of people of all ages said they had successfully quit smoking last year – down from 40 per cent the year before.

Nationally, the self-reported quit rate rose from 51 per cent to 59 per cent over this period.

ASH said there is some evidence that the pandemic has changed smokers' relationship to tobacco.

Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of the charity, added: "Recent research highlighted that younger people appear to have been taking up or going back to smoking in larger numbers.

"It appears likely that for younger people the stress of lockdown has led to more smoking while for older smokers health fears have prompted more quitting.

"Overall, people have been quitting with greater success during the pandemic."

The Department for Health and Social Care said UK smoking rates are at record low levels, and the Government was on track to make England smoke free by 2030.