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Stop the tobacco industry hooking our young - Hartlepool

A Hartlepool MP and Director of Public Health are backing proposed new restrictions on tobacco promotion this World No Tobacco Day (May 31).

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and Director of Public Health Louise Wallace 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 plain, 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.

Mr Wright said: “I thoroughly support plain packaging of tobacco products and I am glad to support Fresh’s Smoke Free North East campaign.
“My constituency of Hartlepool suffers from some of the highest cancer rates in the country. The town has a particular problem with lung cancer, which is linked very closely to the high smoking rate.
“The best way to reduce the rate of smoking is by preventing young people from ever starting in the first place. Unfortunately, the tobacco industry spends millions of pounds on designing its products to be attractive to young people, luring more and more people into a life-long habit that kills around 100,000 people in this country every year.
“I feel strongly that the Government needs to do more to protect young people from the harmful effects of tobacco marketing. I believe the UK should follow Australia’s lead and require all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging and that is why I am supporting this campaign.”

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 of form to try smoking. Research shows that they are more likely to be lured by the designed tobacco packs, than by standardised packs. CRUK recently found 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.

Louise Wallace, Director of Public Health for Hartlepool said: “There has been an excellent response in Hartlepool from the Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board and Health Scrutiny, bringing together the Council and NHS on this issue. We are very keen to make smoking history for our children and feel that an initiative that requires tobacco packaging to conform to a standardised format will go a long way to reducing the appeal of tobacco products.  I totally support the idea and I’d really urge any mum, dad or grandparent – whether they smoke or not – to back these moves to make cigarettes and tobacco much less attractive to our youth.”

Consultant paediatrician Dr Jagat Jani at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “The majority of new smokers do 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.

“Child smokers can show signs of addiction within four weeks of starting to smoke and those who start to smoke at a young age are more likely to be heavier smokers, with a higher dependency, 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.”

Ailsa Rutter, director of FRESH, said: “We are delighted to have MPs and DPH backing for this, as well as doctors who see the harm of smoking on their wards every day. 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