Cancer Research UK have released fresh figures that provide a stern warning of the dangers of tobacco usage for children in the near future, suggesting that half a million young lives in the UK will be shortened by the use of tobacco related products, unless more is done to curb current smoking rates. They base their claims on a report that has been produced this week, using existing available data to estimate the likely take up rates for smoking among the under-16s, who are then likely to become smokers when they are adults.

Their figures suggest that from a total child population of some 12 million at present, around 2.7 million can be predicted as being likely to take up the smoking habit.

From that basic data, the average predicted rates of death for smokers would result in about 500,000 people being likely to die as a result of diseases that can be traced back to their smoking habits.

The charity are keen to urge MPs to provide their backing for the introduction of tobacco packaging in a plain and standardised form, so are utilising the new data to push their claims and renew the pressure for change. MPs are due to vote on this issue in the weeks ahead. Their executive director of policy, Sarah Woolnough re-iterated their concern based on their findings that revealed "the appallingly high number of lives that will be lost unless we move faster to reduce the lethal impact of tobacco."

Ms Woolnough believes that a serious stance on the health of the nation requires more to be done to cut down smoking rates.

Cancer Research UK have been campaigning for the standardising of Cigarette packaging for around three years, seeking to remove some of the appeal that cigarettes have for children, with evidence suggesting that the packaging is part of the 'attraction'. There is certainly some grounds for this belief, given the findings in Australia after such action was introduced, where smoking rates did indeed fall.

It was announced in January by Jane Ellison, the Public Health minister, that the Government planned to vote on the issue of making the packaging standardised before the upcoming general election in May.