Smokers aged 9 in Britain’s poorest town

March 10th, 2011 - 1:58 pm ICT by ANI  

London, March 10 (ANI): An NHS study has found that the average age for taking up smoking in Britain’s most deprived town is just nine.

But many are even younger - like one lad who got hooked aged three because his grandparents thought it was funny to give him fags.

The shock findings come from Merthyr Tydfil, in South Wales - blighted by few jobs, poor wages and dependence on benefits.

“Unfortunately it is realistic. I had a patient who started between two and three,” the Sun quoted Researcher Tracey Bowen as saying.

“His parents gave him cigarettes because they thought it was funny.”

The study was carried out after medics noticed the high number of tobacco-related illnesses in the former industrial town.

Merthyr, population 55,000, has one of the UK’s lowest life expectancy rates and one of the highest of people on sickness benefit.

On the town’s Gurnos estate, the average age for men to enjoy good health before problems kick in - known as healthy life expectancy - is just 58.8 years.

The average age for starting smoking in Wales is 12. There are no figures for England or for Britain overall, but 80 per cent of Brit smokers have started by 19. (ANI)

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