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Fresh welcomes Government consultation into plain, standardised tobacco packaging

STANDARDISED tobacco packaging will be an important step to help reduce the allure of smoking to children and make the dangers far more explicit, campaigners FRESH said today.

FRESH is supporting standardised packaging as a further measure to reduce the number of young people who become addicted to smoking every year in the North East, where the average age of starting smoking is just 15 years old, but with some starting as young as nine.

A new survey released today shows high support in the North East for plain packaging:
• Adults within the North East were shown an image of a plain standardised pack and 66 per cent said they support requiring tobacco to be sold in plain, standardised packaging, with the product name in standard lettering. Only 10 per cent of adults opposed plain packaging.
• 78 per cent of North East adults agree that tobacco companies should be further controlled to protect children.

Ailsa Rutter, director of FRESH, said: “This is another vital measure to take in our journey to help make smoking history for children. Smoking is an addiction that starts in childhood and it is not surprising when you see the number of colourful, attractive tobacco products being offered on the shelves – with packaging to look like make up and MP3 players.

“Evidence shows  that young people are more likely to be attracted to glitzy, colourful tobacco packaging. There are also glamorous ‘fashion brands’ and ‘superslims’ available, popular with young female celebrities, which are particularly aimed at young women, exploiting beliefs around smoking, fashion and staying slim.

“Smoking still remains our biggest killer in the North East, with 11 deaths a day from smoking related disease. The tobacco industry is already fighting against Plain Packaging and pedalling a number of myths, including that it will fuel illicit tobacco, because they know that the introduction of plain packs will turn off the tap to a whole generation of young smokers, who will become addicted.

“FRESH is supporting the national Plain Packs Protect campaign, which we are running in partnership with ASH, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK. If you would like to help us to protect a generation of young people from taking up smoking and a lifetime of addiction, you can sign up at www.freshne.com/plainpacks  to have your say in the Government’s three month public consultation.”

Dr Chris Stenton, Consultant Respiratory Physician with Newcastle Hospitals’ Foundation Trust, based at the RVI, said: “We need to do all we can to protect children from becoming addicted to cigarettes. Glamorous packaging is used by tobacco companies to make smoking appear grown-up, sexy and exciting. It lures children into addiction and a lifetime of health problems. It robs them of 10 years of their life.

“Plain packaging for cigarettes is an important step in presenting the reality of cigarette smoking. Not glamorous, not grown-up, not smart.”

“Cigarette smoking is still the leading preventable case of early death and disease. Most smokers start smoking when they are children, and the earlier a smoker starts the more likely they are to become addicted. Young smokers become heavier smokers, are less likely to be able to stop smoking, and are more likely to die of heart disease, lung disease, and cancer.”

Ex-smoker Louise Morris, 35, from Walker in Newcastle, says that attractive packaging is making smoking more fashionable amongst young people. She said: “I started smoking with a group of friends when I was 13 years old. We all thought it was really fashionable to smoke the brand of cigarettes that looked the most attractive and I remember smoking cigarettes in a shiny gold packet, because it made us feel like we were smoking a glamorous brand of cigarettes that looked more expensive compared to everyone else’s cigarettes.

“Cigarette packets today are so colourful and attractive that it is only natural that young people are influenced into thinking that smoking is a cool thing to do.

“I find it really disturbing that the tobacco industry is producing products which are obviously particularly attractive to young people, especially young girls. Young people are under enough pressure as it is to fit in, without having so-called designer cigarettes influencing them to follow a particular trend. All cigarettes, whether super-slim or in jazzy colours, are bad for you - so I can’t believe how these brands are readily available to buy.

“Quitting smoking has had such a positive effect on my life, that it makes me feel really angry that my children and other young people are growing up in a society where these deadly trends are so easily accessible to them.”

Australia is the first country to have introduced plain drab olive green packaging for tobacco products from December 2012. Plain Packs will display only the name of the product brand and graphic health warnings and, as well as reducing attractiveness to young people, it is hoped that the introduction of standardised packaging will also curb misleading health messages which imply that some tobacco products are ‘safer’ than others.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of campaigning charity ASH, said: “The consultation is just the first step, putting us in pole position to be the first European nation to put tobacco in plain, standardised packs. Now that cigarette advertising, promotion and sponsorship and tobacco displays have all been banned this is the obvious next step if the government truly wants to make smoking history. Cigarettes are not like sweets or toys and should not be sold in fancy colourful packaging which makes them appealing to children. Cigarettes are full of toxins and cause fatal diseases: plain, standardised packaging makes this explicit."
To support Plain Packs Protect and find out more, sign up at www.freshne.com/plainpacks 
 

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