We must set an example to stop our children lighting up

Too many of our children are still being lured into smoking, says Nick Conrad.

Too many of our children are still being lured into smoking, says Nick Conrad. - Credit: PA

Columnists have a tendency to preach. These righteous 'holier than thou' rants can be nauseating, so I apologise if this week's musing sounds like the latest delivery from my personal soapbox.

First up – here's a stat that my radio producer said would shock me but, frankly, it didn't. Every day in Norfolk eight children will take up smoking. That's the equivalent of two classrooms every week.

I'm going to put a positive spin on these numbers (and take them seriously). Though worrying, they also demonstrate progress.

The good news is the proportion of adults smoking in the UK has declined to its lowest level since the 1940s.

Tobacco industry figures in the 1940s showed well over half the over-16s in the UK were smokers, with the proportion rising to nearly two-thirds of men.

The peak decade for women smoking was the swinging 1960s.

Fast forward to 2017 and official figures suggest that the habit's prevalence among over-18s has dropped significantly, thanks to public stop-smoking campaigns and new quit aids.

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E-cigarettes have been revolutionary.

But we do have a big problem in Norfolk. Why? Nationally around one-in-12 15-year-olds smokes.

In Norfolk, it's one in nine.

Our county boasts one of the highest numbers of adolescent smokers in the country.

Trying to stop our youngsters lighting up in the first place is key.

Understanding the pressures of our adolescent years is key to tackling this issue.

Three of the main reasons that young people smoke are to look mature, to be like their friends and to experiment.

Since teens see older people all around them smoking, especially their parents and relatives, they smoke to act older.

Most start when they are in their teens and are addicted by the time they reach adulthood.

But with so many health warnings, why do people still puff away?

Even dire prophecies of doom or nightmare health predictions won't deter teenagers.

But their 'invincible' attitude soon crumbles.

As the saying goes 'cancer cures smoking'.

A mix of hard-hitting public health campaigns and the rise in technology to help people quit could be a recipe for success.

Anyone attempting to ditch the fags deserves our support.