A Lancaster schoolboy is fronting a campaign to help prevent his peers smoking.
As pupils return to school, Cancer Research UK released statistics which show that 68 11-15 year olds start smoking every day in the North West as part of its Setting the Standard campaign.
Rio Quarry, 12, is a pupil at Ripley St Thomas Academy in Lancaster. He lives in Halton.
His dad, Jamie is a former Scottish decathlete, Commonwealth medallist and Head of PE at Rio’s school.
Mum, Annette, 44, said: “Rio was diagnosed with asthma when he was younger.
“He is a very keen swimmer and understands that smoking is the worst thing for respiratory problems.
“He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of his sport.
“His dad is a former athlete and has been a great role model. He wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps, so health and fitness is extremely important.
“He hates to see people smoking because he knows how damaging it can be for health.
“So, while I’m not too concerned that Rio would bow to peer pressure and take up smoking, I’m really shocked at the number of children in the region who are taking it up. I had no idea the figure was so high. I’m sure part of that is to do with the fact that they’re being lured in by glamorous packaging.”
Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for the North West, said: “It’s imperative that we try to help our local youngsters by ‘setting the standard’ and protecting them from tobacco marketing.
“That’s why we are renewing our appeal to the government for cigarettes to be sold in plain, standard packs.”