The following article, by Reporter Jane Ball, was published by the Romford Recorder on the 16th March 2012, and is available at:

It’s a mug’s game, says Jon

Local MP Jon Cruddas urges young people not to take up smoking

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas confessed that he was once a “professional smoker”. He recalled: “I wouldn’t be able to go past a pub without lighting up. I was a ‘get up and have a fag in the morning’ sort of smoker.”

His 20-a-day habit started at the tender age of 14. Like many others he was lighting up to impress pals.

“Everyone used to smoke in those days,” he said. “My dad was a sailor and he got cigarettes as part of his ration. Every male in the family smoked and my gran smoked right up until the day she died – in her 90s!”


He finally gave up seven years ago after pleas from his son, then aged ten. “He was coming home from school with these horror stories – and I really did it for him.”

He said his job as an MP also played a part. “I was seeing first-hand the direct effect smoking was having on constituents and the health service. I was going to seminars and conferences about smoking – I felt like a huge hypocrite.”

Mr Cruddas is supporting the Deborah Hutton Campaign. Backed by the Recorder and its sister papers, it aims to stop young people from picking up the habit.

The campaign remembers Deborah, a 49-year-old journalist who died of lung cancer despite giving up aged 24. It highlights the dangers of smoking, even for a short period, to young people who are being encouraged to make two-minute films on the subject.

Mr Cruddas had this advice for youngsters tempted to give smoking a go: “Smoking is a mug’s game – nothing good comes. It’s bad for finances and more importantly your health – which means worry and heartache for your family – don’t start!”

Mr Cruddas says if he can give up, anyone can. “I spent the best part of ten years trying to give up. My wife and I were a classic; we would pledge to give up on New Year’s Eve, which is, of course, the worst night of the year, and fail!

“I tried every remedy in the book – patches, gum, the works – I never thought I’d be able to do it, but you just have to keep trying and you will


To enter the film contest, visit