Cancer Research UK is urging the government to commit to plain cigarette packaging, as they reveal that 207,000 children started smoking in 2011.
570 children start smoking every day
Looking at an annual government survey of over 6,500 secondary school pupils in England, the charity found that the number of children who have started smoking rose by 50,000 in just one year.
In 2010, 157,000 children aged 11-15 took up the habit, compared with 207,000 in 2011. This is the equivalent of 570 new child smokers every day.
Now, over a quarter (27 per cent) of those under the age of 16 has tried smoking at least once, equating to one million children.
Meanwhile, the number of preteens that smoke is on the rise.
A survey in 2010 showed that two per cent of 12 year old said they used to smoke, one per cent smoked occasionally, and none were regular smokers.
But by 2011, three per cent said they used to smoke, four per cent smoked occasionally, and two per cent admitted smoking regularly.
Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy and information, said: “With such a large number of youngsters starting to smoke every year, urgent action is needed to tackle the devastation caused by tobacco.”
With eight out of ten adult smokers starting before they turn 19, Cancer Research UK is now urging the government to commit to plain, standardised tobacco packaging to reduce the number of child smokers.
Tobacco companies use their packaging to make their products more attractive. A poll carried out by the British Heart Foundation in 2011 found that one in four young people that smoke regularly judged one brand of cigarettes to be healthier than the other when presented with different packaging.
Children disregarded the fact that all cigarettes contain the same tar, toxins and carbon monoxide.
In December 2012, Australia was the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging. In the UK, a public consultation on tobacco packaging closed in August 2012, and there has been no decision announced from the government about how they will proceed.
Sarah Woolnough said: “Replacing slick, brightly coloured packs that appeal to children with standard packs displaying prominent health warnings, is a vital part of efforts to protect health.
“Reducing the appeal of cigarettes with plain, standardised packs will give millions of children one less reason to start smoking.”
Half of all long term smokers will die from tobacco related illness. Smokers will also be charged higher premiums for their medical insurance, life insurance and income protection, because they are a higher risk to the insurer.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013