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North East backs an end to tobacco marketing to children

THE VAST majority of people in the North East (85 per cent) believe that children should not be exposed to any tobacco marketing according to new data1 published by Cancer Research UK today.

Eight in ten (80 per cent) of those surveyed in the region think that tobacco marketing is harmful to children.

And two thirds (66 per cent) said that the stylish, colourful branding, striking logos and distinctive packet designs make cigarettes more appealing to children.

Cancer Research UK has released the results as the government consults on whether to put all tobacco in packs of uniform size, shape and design, with large health warnings front and back.

The charity is championing the call to protect children from tobacco marketing through a hard-hitting campaign – The Answer is Plain.

People across the North East are being urged to sign the campaign petition for all branding to be removed from tobacco packaging at

Other figures show 25 per cent of women and 17 per cent of men in the North East smoke.2 Cancer Research UK believes that plain, unbranded packaging is needed to reduce the appeal of tobacco products to children and give the region’s young people one less reason to start smoking.

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh Smoke Free North East, said: “Smoking is an addiction that usually starts in childhood and people on the streets of the North East have commented how alluring cigarette brands are to children and young smokers.

“It is wrong that something that contains 4000 chemicals and kills one in two users should be gift wrapped in this way like sweets or breakfast cereals.”

Paul Wadsworth, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the North East, said: “This survey shows people across the region clearly support action to get rid of one of the last ways the tobacco industry can market its products. So we’re asking them to sign our petition and help end the ‘packet racket’.

“Many parents know their children are very attached to certain brands and cleverly designed packaging plays a significant role in maintaining that attraction. But when we are talking about tobacco then it’s time to change the law.

“We have a unique opportunity to protect children from the marketing of this deadly product. This is not about ‘the nanny state’. This is about us as a society saying that it is wrong for tobacco – a product that kills half of all its long term users – to be marketed to children as though it were a bag of sweets.”

Cancer Research UK has released a shocking short film,3 illustrating the powerful response tobacco packaging elicits from children. It shows scenes of six to 11 year olds innocently discussing what attracts them to brightly coloured and slickly designed cigarette packs.

The children’s reactions to the packs include: “It makes you feel like you’re in a wonderland of happiness”, “The pictures actually look quite nice. Ice cubes and mint.”, “It reminds me of a Ferrari”, “Is that the Royal Sign?” and “Yeah. Pink, Pink, Pink”.

Research by the charity also shows that teenage boys and girls find different brands and packs appealing.

People in the North East can sign Cancer Research UK’s ‘The Answer is Plain’ petition at

• 157,000 11 to 15 year olds in the UK started smoking in 2010.4
• More than eight in ten smokers start by the age of 19.5
• Smoking causes more than eight in ten lung cancer cases in the UK.6
• Sign Cancer Research UK’s petition at