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Stop the tobacco industry hooking our young - Durham and Darlington

A DARLINGTON MP, school and hospital paediatrician are backing proposed new restrictions on tobacco promotion this World No Tobacco Day (May 31).

 Darlington MP Jenny Chapman and pupils at Darlington School of Maths and Science are supporting a campaign for tobacco products to be sold in standardised packaging to help make smoking history for more children.

Over 60,000 people nationwide have now put their names to a national Government consultation on whether standardised packaging of tobacco would make packs less attractive to young people and make the damage to health much more obvious.

The average age for smokers starting in the North East is just 15, and evidence shows* children are more likely to be attracted to glitzy, colourful tobacco packaging.

Darlington MPJenny Chapman, who has previously spoken out against tobacco companies targetting young women with pack designs, said: “It’s crucial we turn off the tap of a new generation of smokers.

"Standardised packaging would be another step forward in helping to achieve this, especially with young people who are attracted to glamorous packaging of tobacco products.

“Tobacco is full of harmful, addictive chemicals and this should be made very clear on the packs so I am pleased to support standardised packaging.”

FRESH is supporting the Plain Packs Protect campaign, backed by ASH, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) in support of this measure.

Every year, another 340,000 children in the UK are tempted in some shape or form to try smoking. Research shows that they are more likely to be lured by the designed tobacco packs, than by plain packs. Cancer Research UK recently announced that 85 per cent of people in the North East believe that children should not be exposed to any form of tobacco marketing – such as glamorous packaging.
Dr John Furness, consultant paediatrician with County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The majority of new smokers start in childhood and the earlier a smoker starts in age, the more likely they will become addicted and at risk of a number of smoking related diseases and an early death.

“These people are more likely to be heavier smokers, have a lower chance of quitting and much higher chance of dying earlier. They are more at risk of respiratory problems, coughs, impaired lung growth and premature lung function decline, as well as having a bigger risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease.

“This is a real problem and we need to protect children from being exposed to tobacco industry tactics like glamorous exciting packaging which ultimately lures them into a lifetime of health issues and premature death.”

Local school, Darlington School of Maths and Science, is also pledging support to the campaign. Emma Hickerson, senior assistant headteacher, said: “Our pupils are really supportive for us as a school to raise further awareness amongst their fellow students about the many health risks involved with smoking.

“Smoking is an addiction that starts in childhood which is why we’re fully behind this campaign to protect young people from ever starting.”

Ailsa Rutter, director of FRESH, said: “We welcome support from Jenny Chapman, as well as from doctors who see the harm of smoking on their wards every day and a local school. All support for this vital measure which will ultimately help to make smoking history for children.

“By supporting the introduction of standardised packs, the North East will be playing a part in helping to turn off the tap of a whole new generation of smokers who are being lured in by attractive product designs which look like cosmetics, MP3 players, crayons and also glamorous slimline cigarettes.

“Smoking remains our biggest killer in the North East, with 11 deaths a day from smoking related disease. We would encourage everyone to pledge their support for this to help protect the next generation of young people from taking up smoking and suffering from a lifetime of addiction and ill health.”

To pledge your support to the Plain Packs Protect campaign and for your say in the Government’s public consultation, sign up today at

To watch a short film on what people in the North East think about current tobacco packaging and the introduction of standardised packs, click here:

You can also follow FRESH on facebook and Twitter at FreshSmokeFree