The Sun is reporting that almost £400,000 was “wasted” on failed anti-smoking lessons for kids.
Operation Smoke Storm involved kids role-playing as secret agents infiltrating an imaginary cigarette firm called R.I.Payne. It sought to copy a successful American campaign by teaching kids about the “unethical and manipulative tactics used by the tobacco industry in persuading young people to use an addictive yet deadly product”.
But in a major embarrassment, a review of a pilot study by medical journal The Lancet found it flopped.
After comparing the results from two schools which tried the lessons against others which did not, academics said: “Operation Smoke Storm does not seem to have reduced smoking and susceptibility to smoking among students aged 12-13 in two UK schools.”
Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is a ludicrous waste of taxpayers’ money. It’s yet another example of a fortune being spent on expensive schemes that yield no result.”
But the NHS National Institute for Health Research, which is funded by the Department of Health, defended the dud project. A spokesman said: “Stopping children taking up smoking is one of the most important public health priorities.”
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