Children are being warned that smoking can cause blindness

Children are more afraid of living with blindness than dying from cancer, according to research by a charity.

The Macular Society says children should be given clearer warnings that smoking dramatically increases the risk of blindness.

Research suggests smokers are up to four times more likely to get macular degeneration compared with non-smokers.

However, a survey of 10 year olds found that 98 per cent did not know that smoking increases the risk of blindness. They ranked blindness as the "most feared" consequence of smoking, ahead of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

Around 600 UK children start smoking every day. The charity says they are being kept in the dark about the damage tobacco could do to their sight. And it is critical of the slow process in implementing an EU directive to put sight loss warnings on cigarette packets.

The charity is launching its own campaign called: Is it real? It uses a series of hard-hitting videos created for viral sharing and targeting children.

Macular Society Chief Executive, Tony Rucinski, who is blind himself, said: "We are failing children if we don't tell them about the full dangers of smoking. Children are, rightly, concerned about the prospect of living with sight loss but adults seem to overlook this when planning anti-smoking campaigns. Two-hundred people a day in the UK start to lose their sight from macular degeneration and more than half a million people have it, making it the biggest cause of sight loss.”

Further information