Updated: Friday, 24th November 2017 @ 8:08am

Manchester youth smoking shame: Six children take up cigarettes EVERY DAY

Manchester youth smoking shame: Six children take up cigarettes EVERY DAY

By Neil Robertson

Nearly six children A DAY took up smoking in Manchester during the last year, according to Cancer Research UK figures.

Almost 2,200 children under the age of 16 in the city of Manchester have started smoking since last year – more than twice as many as Newcastle (1076).

The shocking rates are also higher than Liverpool (1848) and Sheffield (1917). In fact, more than 10,000 children across the Greater Manchester area took up the habit in 2012.

Alison Cox, Tobacco Control Lead for Cancer Research UK, said that they are pushing for legislation which will drastically change the design of cigarette packs.

This, she hopes, will deglamorise cigarettes in the eyes of children.

 “Children find a dull looking cigarette pack a turn off whereas they find a colourful, glitzy, well designed pack interesting,” she said.

“What it’s about is trying to protect children. Taking away branding and colourful packs is an unobtrusive step for everybody else in the chain.”

This campaign will stop children from feeling pressured into smoking so early on in life, according to Ms. Cox.

“Smoking is pretty much a childhood addiction – eight out of ten people start smoking before 19, so it’s really important to tackle the issue.

 “Our campaign is aimed at getting government to introduce this legislation at a critical time.”

Cancer Research UK held consultations with the government over eight months ago to propose the new legislation.

Now they are hoping that it will be approved at The Queen’s Speech on May 8.

Ms Cox said: “We’re under pressure to resist pressure at the moment – the branding pressure from cigarette companies.  

“This is just about changing the packs – our aim is to protect children from advertising messages and to stop them being susceptible.”  

Ms. Cox suggested that popular figures – particularly those in film and music – have a lot to answer for about the example they set to children.

“You still see smoking on movies, you see pop stars and models smoking trying to use it as a symbol of rebellion. These undoubtedly have a negative effect on children,” she said.

Cancer Research UK suggested that other reasons, such as family habits, may contribute to children under 16 taking up smoking.

“The adolescent years are extremely important in establishing an individual’s lifetime smoking or non-smoking behaviour,” they said.

“Having parents, siblings and peers who smoke is a factor that encourages children to smoke.

“There is evidence that a younger age of smoking initiation carries additional risks of lung damage, and it has been shown that people taking up smoking before the age of 15 have double the risk of lung cancer.”

Other Greater Manchester boroughs studied by Cancer Research UK were Wigan (1134), Bolton (986), Stockport (968), Salford (945), Oldham (852), Tameside (836), Rochdale (771), Trafford (692) and Bury (639). 

Picture courtesy of Prosto Photos, with thanks.

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