ONE in seven youngsters in Rotherham take up smoking by the age of 15.
The annual report of the Rotherham Tobacco Control Alliance says many of them get their cigarettes from shops, while more than half of them are also buying them from shops which are not enforcing the minimum age of 18 for tobacco sales.
The report also reveals that the town’s overall smoking rate has remained static at 24 per cent, despite a rise in cigarette prices of a third over the last 30 years, and that more people than average for England are regular smokers in Rotherham.
However, smoking rates vary widely across the borough, from a low of nine per cent up to a high of 45 per cent.
The Alliance adds: “We need to continue to raise the awareness of the links between illicit tobacco and organised crime, and of the increased risks in smoking unregulated tobacco products, often with far higher levels of contaminants than standard cigarettes.”
It also states the smoking rate for children aged between 11 and 15 is higher than the national average
The report also reveals that historically there has always been a high number of women who continue to smoke during pregnancy.
This hit a high during 2009-10 - the seventh highest rate in England.
A new approach to manage smoking during pregnancy was introduced in February 2010 which, according to the report, has show a ‘significant impact.’
Fewer then 20 per cent of women smoked at the time of delivery during 2011/12.
The cost of smoking locally has been estimated as £71.9 million each year. Rotherham smokers spend around £81.5 million on tobacco products.