Speaking from personal experience, the younger you start smoking, the harder it is to stop.
And this theory was confirmed recently when I was shown an anti-smoking ad on youtube which filmed children asking adult smokers if they had a light for their cigarette.
Strangely enough, the adults were less concerned about their own well-being than that of the children, and warned them about the devastating impact smoking could have on their health and appearance.
The smokers knew from bitter experience that the best way to beat the smoking habit is never to begin in the first place.
The tobacco companies need to recruit thousands of new smokers every year to replace those smokers who quit or die to maintain the profit. They also know if they get a young new smoker they will have them for 15 – 20 years, perhaps a lifetime.
Part of their strategy to get new recruits is to make smoking appealing through the use of fancy branding and packaging.
Shiny holograms, pretty pastel colours and wrappers are just some of the eye-catching pack designs available.
It remains one of the last powerful marketing tools for tobacco companies to recruit new smokers to their deadly products.
So this is why I am backing the national campaign for all tobacco products to be sold in plain, unbranded packaging which will remove the positive association with cigarette brands and image.
This measure alone won’t stop young people taking up smoking. Nevertheless, it is a further step in the right direction and will help to weaken the tobacco companies grip on young people.