Not enough is being done to educate young children in the UK about the harmful effects of smoking.

That is the widespread view from health experts despite the ban on the sale of tobacco to under-18's which comes into effect on 1 October.

A study by Cancer Research UK (1) reveals that children who smoked just one cigarette by the age of 11 were more than twice as likely to take up smoking over the next few years.

Dr Tim Crayford, President of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: 'If you could prevent your child from trying their first cigarette, it would probably be one of the most important gifts of health you could give them'.

With 450 children still taking up smoking every day in the UK, there are concerns that the under-18 ban does not go far enough in encouraging young people to avoid the killer weed.

However, a unique new pack for parents and teachers to help steer children away from smoking is being hailed as a potential lifesaver.

some of the world's leading experts on smoking cessation, Smoking Sucks! is an innovative aid with a new and radical approach. It not only covers the dangers and obvious disadvantages of smoking, but also explains the trap of addiction in terms that children can understand.

Robin Hayley, Managing Director of Allen Carr's Easyway and author of Smoking Sucks!, said: 'Allen Carr always accepted that prevention is better than cure and believed that if we could educate children about addiction, we could help them avoid the smoking trap altogether. As Allen said, "If you could explain to a fish the nature of the trap set for them by the angler, they would never take the bait and never get hooked"'.

With evidence suggesting that preventing children from trying even one cigarette is more important than first thought, educational tools such as Smoking Sucks! are crucial in the battle to reduce smoking rates amongst young people in the UK.

Robin Hayley said: 'Three out of four children are aware of cigarettes before they reach the age of five whether or not their parents smoke. However, by educating children about how addiction works, we can help them avoid drugs which are now the greatest danger to their health, happiness and quality of life'.

1. Study from Cancer Research UK published 25 May 2006 in the journal Tobacco Control.


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