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Thursday, October 22, 1998 Published at 06:38 GMT 07:38 UK


Tobacco's young addicts

Many young smokers cannot get through the day without a cigarette

New research shows British children as young as 11 are becoming addicted to cigarettes.

More than one in four - around 26% - of 15-year-olds are now regular smokers.

Half of all those questioned said they would find it difficult to get through the day without smoking.

About 37% of 11-15 year olds said their favourite brand of cigarettes was Benson and Hedges, while the next most popular is Lambert and Butler, according to the survey of schoolchildren by the Office of National Statistics.

Katie Aston, from the Health Education Authority, which commissioned the survey, said: "This new research confirms that children become hooked on cigarettes very early on.

"Many teenagers display the same signs of addiction as young adults, often smoking shortly after they wake up and finding it hard to get through the day without smoking."

Many of the children surveyed were influenced by indirect advertising by the tobacco industry, with almost one in five 11-15 year olds owning sports clothes with a cigarette logo.

A spokeswoman for ASH - Action on Health and Smoking - said: "This report shows that a partial ban on tobacco advertising just won't do.

"What we need is a total ban to stop these children becoming addicted to cigarettes."

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