WIGAN health chiefs have vowed to tackle child smoking after it was revealed that a child smokes every half hour in the region.
Figures released by Cancer Research UK reveal that 52 youngsters from the North West are taking up the habit each day, which ultimately kills half of all long-term smokers.
The news has prompted Wigan health bosses to act on the issue.
Dr Kate Ardern, Wigan’s executive director of public health, said: “Wigan Council became the first in England and Wales to pass a motion supporting Plain Packaging for tobacco products in March 2012, so the borough is already leading the UK in this important area.
“The campaign for plain packaging is not primarily aimed at stopping existing smokers, who will often have smoked the same brand for a considerable period. The focus is on stopping young people starting smoking.
“It is worth remembering that the children of smokers are more likely than the children of non-smokers to take up smoking.”
These calls have been backed by chiefs at campaign group Tobacco-Free Futures who are asking MPs across Greater Manchester to tell the government to take a tougher stance on tobacco promotion.
They want politicians to introduce plain, standardised packaging for tobacco products – and ban glossy adverts which could encourage young people to start smoking.
More than 27,000 Greater Manchester residents signed up to support the campaign to introduce plain, standardised tobacco packs and demand the end of glitzy cigarette packaging during a public consultation last year.
But it is six months since the consultation ended with no decision yet made by ministers.
The Smokefree Action Coalition, an alliance of more than 190 health organisations is calling on the government to publish the results of its consultation and announce that it will go ahead with legislation.
Andrea Crossfield, director of Tobacco-Free Futures, said: “Most smokers start as children. There are packs with designs that look like Lego, perfume and lip gloss here on shop shelves.
“We are urging MPs in Greater Manchester to listen, commit and legislate and put cigarettes in standard packs, and help end the disgraceful scandal of tobacco marketing for good.”
Trading Standards North West says that standardised packs would be no easier to counterfeit than current branded packs.
Pete Astley, Trading Standards North West strategic lead for illicit tobacco, said: “There is no evidence standardised packs will fuel illegal tobacco.
Call the local Stop Smoking Service on free phone on 0500 7867 669 for support.