Child smoking figures shock

As ban on sale of child-friendly menthol cigarettes takes effect ASH reveals that over 11,000 children a year start smoking in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 3:15 pm
Bid to get children to quit the habit.

A new analysis published by ASH last week finds that over 11,000 children a year take up smoking in Yorkshire, highlighting the need for further action to tackle smoking.

From Wednesday May 20, the sale of child-friendly menthol flavoured cigarettes will be prohibited, which ASH says is an essential next step in ending the tobacco epidemic and achieving the Government’s ambition for England to be smokefree by 2030.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said: “Menthol cigarettes are a child-friendly starter product because menthol makes it easier to smoke and to inhale the smoke deep into the lungs.

“Menthol smokers are also more likely to become heavily addicted and find it harder to quit.

“That’s why the Government concluded a ban on menthol was justified, it’s just a shame it’s taken so long. The ban on menthol is long overdue, all other cigarette flavourings became illegal three years ago.”

She added: “Two thirds of the 11,000 children who start smoking every year will turn into regular smokers, risking a lifetime of addiction and years of disease before a premature death.

“Every year almost 9,000 people die from smoking in Yorkshire, and smoking is responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between the richest and the poorest. The ban on menthol will help bring to an end this public health disaster.”

Breaking the numbers down further to local authority level demonstrates major differences between richer and poorer areas.

The East Riding and Wakefield both have populations of around 270,000 people, but nearly 50 per cent more children under 16 take up smoking every year in Wakefield (850) than in the East Riding (571).

Ash says the disparity in areas is linked to vastly different smoking rates, as children who grow up in smoking households are almost three times as likely to become smokers themselves.

Only one in eight adults in the East Riding smoke compared to one in five in Wakefield.

This disparity between richer and poorer areas is played out up and down the country with one in four adults smoking in Kingston Upon Hull in Yorkshire compared to only one in ten in Kingston Upon Thames in south west London.

The ban on menthol is only the latest of a series of tough tobacco regulations associated with a rapid decline in youth smoking from nearly one in five at the turn of the century to one in 20 in 2018.