Smoking kids surprise

SMOKERS disgust many people and when a Lower Clarence resident saw three boys he estimated were between 11 and 13 puffing away while they blocked the entrance to the Maclean pool on Friday that's exactly how he felt.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said he went from disgusted to totally appalled when he found out the parents of the boys condoned their carcinogenic habit.

He said when he approached the school-aged boys and asked them how old they were they initially ignored him.

"Then one of them said he was 15," he said.

"If he was 15 he was a very stunted 15 at best," the man told The Daily Examiner on Friday afternoon.

"They were completely blocking the public entry into the swimming pool."

When a woman pushing a baby in a pram approached the boys, the man said she interjected.

"She said its okay; their mothers have said they can smoke."

"I said 'you tell that to the police'," the man replied.

Two hours after the incident the man said he could not believe parents would allow such young children to smoke.

"These kids would have been six years under the legal smoking age of 18. Somebody should be fined for buying them cigarettes and condoning their smoking."

Still reflecting on his experience, the man said he was shocked by one of his observations and appalled by another.

"The two key things that stood out for me were first the lady saying their mothers said it was okay and second was that these boys were experienced smokers; they were fully inhaling."

According to the NSW Cancer Council about 10% of NSW youth's aged between 12 and 17 smoke cigarettes.

A Cancer Council spokes- person said the levels of boys and girls smoking were very similar, with up to a 1% difference in the number of smokers of each sex. The spokesperson said targeting the teenage market had evolved, with under-the-radar marketing methods including "stealth marketing" where cigarette sales promotions feature at music festivals, night clubs, fashion shows and dance parties.

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