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New school term brings new smoking warning from cancer charity
AS pupils across the region get ready for the start of the new school year worrying statistics released by a charity show that 24 children start smoking every day in the region.
Cancer Research UK is releasing the figures, which relate to children aged 11-15, as part of its Setting the Standard campaign to underline the importance of discouraging young people from starting to smoke.
The start of the new term serves as a timely reminder to the government to commit to plain, standardised packaging of tobacco. Research shows that children find standard packs less appealing.
Since half of all long-term smokers will die of a smoking-related illness, these young people are at risk of being drawn into a life threatening addiction.
Starting to smoke at a young age also carries additional risks of lung damage.
Every year, around 2,600 people in the North-East are diagnosed with lung cancer and 2,100 people die from the disease .
Paul Wadsworth, Cancer Research UK spokesman for the North-East 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. In the North East alone, this is 8,911 children every year.
"With many 11-year-olds starting secondary school for the first time next week, it's imperative that we try to help our local youngsters by 'setting the standard' and protecting them from tobacco marketing. That's why we are renewing our appeal to the government for cigarettes to be sold in plain, standard packs."
Standard packs have already been introduced in Australia, but the UK Government is delaying its decision to bring in a new law.
Cancer Research UK is urging local people to visit cruk.org/standard-packs to email the Prime Minister or join the debate on twitter using #packetracket.
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