A family from Halton is backing a campaign to highlight the number of children taking up smoking in Lancaster.
Cancer Research UK has released statistics to show that 534 children aged between 11 and 15 start smoking every year in the city.
The charity is releasing the figures as part of its Setting the Standard campaign to underline the importance of action to discourage young people from starting to smoke.
Rio Quarry, 12, from Halton, is a pupil at Ripley St Thomas Academy.
His dad, Jamie Quarry, is a former Scottish decathlete, Commonwealth medallist and head of PE at the school.
His mum, Annette Quarry, 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.
“He really 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.
“I’ve tried to educate Rio and his younger brother Isaac about the damaging effects of smoking and I feel sure they’ve got the message but it’s a shame other children aren’t getting it.
“I’m glad Rio is doing his bit to get try and get this across. It’s a very important campaign.”
Cancer Research UK is appealing to the government to commit to commit to plain, standardised packaging of tobacco.
The charity says that research shows that children find standard packs less appealing and are less likely to be misled by the marketing techniques designed to make smoking attractive to youngsters.
It is urging local people to support Setting the Standard by visiting www.cruk.org/standard-packs to email the Prime Minister to urge him to act.