ALMOST 20,000 Scottish children start smoking every year, campaigners have warned.
Cancer Research UK released the figures, relating to children aged 11 to 15, as part of its Setting the Standard campaign to highlight the importance of action to discourage young people from starting to smoke.
The Scottish Government backs the use of plain packaging for tobacco as a way of reducing its attractiveness to children, despite the idea being shelved by the Westminster government.
Cancer Research UK is now urging swift action to make sure the measure is introduced in the Scottish Government’s new legislative programme.
The charity said research showed that children found standard packs less appealing.
The new figures show that 19,900 Scottish children each year – 55 youngsters every day – take up smoking.
Vicky Crichton, Cancer Research UK senior public affairs manager in Scotland, said: “Smoking is a serious problem in Scotland with almost 20,000 children, tempted by glitzy, slickly designed packs, being lured into starting smoking every year.
“It is an addiction that kills thousands of Scots annually.”