New figures show that 13,000 children in the North East were admitted to hospital with smoking related problems last year.
The news comes as the Government launches its latest anti-smoking campaign warning people of the dangers of passive smoking.
TV and online adverts in England will outline the risk to children of people lighting up in cars and homes.
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Dr John Sentamu said the waiting period is leaving millions of people who are already in debt with "nothing to fall back on".
Work to turn one of Ali Brownlee’s most famous commentaries into a piece of public poetry has now begun.