CHILDREN in Merthyr Tydfil start smoking from the age of nine. The Welsh town has one of the UK’s lowest life expectancy rates and is riddled with smoking-related illnesses.
A Prince Charles Hospital survey found one boy became addicted before he was three because his grandparents “thought it was funny”.
They, of course, should have been shot, but that is a politically incorrect thing to suggest, and we should not let children’s health get in the way of being politically correct.
Anti-smoking service nurse Tracey Bowen said: “The average age of people starting to smoke came out as nine.”
Charity Ash called the study “shocking”. A spokesperson said, “You can’t underestimate the damage smoking does.”
The average age to start smoking in Wales is 12 and in America it is 13. There is no figure for the UK.
This study comes at a time of debate about smoking.
The Government has said that from next year cigarettes should not be on show in supermarkets. Smaller shops have another three years to put them under the counter.
After this was announced, I listened on the car radio to a discussion about the merits or otherwise of this legislation and was astounded to discover that it is legal for adults to smoke in a car in which children are passengers.
Should this practice also be outlawed?
An opponent of the tobacco ban declared it should not. It was down to parental responsibility, he said.
Like those grandparents in Wales, I suppose.
Children confined in a car with an adult puffing away become passive smokers with all the dangers that imply. Remember our own Roy Castle?
Times have changed since smoking was seen and accepted as a social grace in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
Men in the First World War had cigarettes as part of their rations and were well and truly hooked. Tobacco companies then turned their sights to expanding their market to include women.
Adverts became glamorous and sophisticated. Cigarettes were in every film made in the UK and America. Bogie and Bacall made lighting a cigarette a mating ritual.
Mind you, he died of cancer.
The alert was sounded about a link with cancer as early as 1950 and now it is well known that smoking kills.
And grandparents think it’s funny to start a three year old smoking?