More than a dozen children in Essex used an NHS service to try and quit smoking during the coronavirus pandemic, figures reveal.

The charity Action on Smoking and Health said the stress of lockdown likely affected young people, as figures show they were the least successful age group to kick the habit across England.

NHS Digital data shows 14 under-18s in Essex set a date to quit using the NHS Stop Smoking Service between April last year and March.

At follow-up meetings held a month later, six said they had given up.

The previous year, six smokers under the age of 18 successfully quit, out of 18 who set a target date.

Of the 1,700 child smokers looking to kick the habit across England last year, 45 per cent reported quitting.

The Department for Health and Social Care said UK smoking rates are at record low levels, and the Government was on track to make England smoke free by 2030.

A spokeswoman added: “We are addressing the damaging health implications of smoking right across the country, especially where rates remain stubbornly high.

"Our new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities will support efforts to level up public health and ensure no communities are left behind."