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Shocking statistics behind schoolchildren's smoking habit
IT starts with a cheeky puff behind the bike sheds, but could end in death.
More than 100 Hampshire schoolchildren a week are taking their first steps towards tobacco addiction, according to a leading cancer charity.
Figures released by Cancer Research UK just days before the start of the new school year reveal that hundreds of the county’s youngsters will start smoking this academic year.
The statistics, based on surveys by the National Foundation for Educational Research and NatCen Social Research, are being used to spearhead the charity’s Setting the Standard campaign – a renewed appeal for the Government to force tobacco companies to adopt plain tobacco packaging rather than branded packs likely to appeal to youngsters.
Previously the Daily Echo revealed how 13,000 people died prematurely from cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease or liver disease between 2009 and 2011.
The Daily Echo launched its Staying Alive campaign urging people to make vital life changes to battle these diseases – many of which are linked to smoking.
Overall, 111 Hampshire children aged 11 to 15 start smoking every week, thereby running the risk of being affected by these illnesses.
Charity spokeswoman Helen Johnstone said: “The excitement of starting a new term is in stark contrast to the reality of the number of children who will start smoking every day.
“With many 11-year-olds starting secondary school for the first time, it’s imperative that we try to help our local youngsters by setting the standard and protecting them from tobacco marketing.” Government figures show eight out of ten adult smokers begin before their 19th birthdays and 27 per cent of all under-16s have tried smoking at least once – the equivalent of one million in Britain.
Charity Tobbaco Control lead Alison Cox said: “Replacing slick, brightly coloured packs that appeal to children with standard packs displaying prominent health warnings is a vital part of our efforts to help protect youngsters’ health.”
For more about the Cancer Research UK campaign go to cruk.org/standard-packs or join the debate by using the #packettracket hashtag on Twitter.
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