A respiratory specialist has called for cigarettes to be banned after witnessing increasing numbers of younger people develop lung disease.
Anindo Banerjee, who works at Southampton General Hospital, said cigarettes are still a massive health problem and not just for older people.
He recounted how a 19-year-old smoker is currently in the hospital being treated for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which usually causes people to slowly suffocate.
“Year on year we are seeing increasing numbers of patients with severe chest diseases due to smoking in which the lungs are damaged, such as COPD,” Mr Banerjee said.
“Depressingly, large numbers of young people smoke, and they often believe that the warnings do not apply to them.
“We are seeing increasing numbers of young people whose lungs have been destroyed by smoking, who suffer the same breathlessness and restriction and whose lives are blighted by their enjoyment. Our youngest patient with this disease is 19 years old.”
Diseased lungs can be transplanted or parts of them cut away to allow one lung to work better, he said.