The following articles was written by Reporter Jane Ball, and published by the Barking and Dagenham Post on 11th April 2012. You can find the original article here: edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx
Politician supports efforts to stop young being hooked on cigarettes
Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas has confessed that he was once a "professional smoker" and said it was a "mug's game".
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 10. "He was coming home from school with these horror stories – and I really did it for him."
The politician 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 Post, 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 smoking at 24.
It highlights the dangers of smoking, even for a short period, to young people who are, through schools and youth centres, being encouraged to make two-minute films on the subject.
Mr Cruddas had this advice for youngsters tempted to give the habit a go: "Smoking is a mug's game – nothing good comes from it.
"It's bad for finances and, more importantly, your health – which means worry and heartache for your family."
Mr Cruddas added that if he can give up, anyone can. "I spent the best part of 10 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 succeed."