Plain cigarette packs would cut Plymouth's 1,362 child smokers
Plain packaging on cigarettes could cut the number of children smoking in Plymouth, according to campaigners.
In Plymouth there are estimated to be 1,362 children aged 11-15 that currently smoke.
On December 1, Australia became the first country to legislate the plain packaging and standardisation of tobacco products.
In January 2012, Smokefree South West led a wide range of partners to launch the campaign Plain Packs Protect, the first campaign in the northern hemisphere to call for a change to the way tobacco companies market their products in the UK.
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Supported by Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation among others, the campaign received over 200,000 expressions of support. In Plymouth 2,225 people expressed their support for the campaign.
Every year, a further 340,000 children in the UK try smoking for the first time. In Plymouth there are estimated to be 1,362 children aged 11-15 that currently smoke.
Research shows that specifically designed, targeted packaging which can include shiny holograms, bright colours and eye-catching images, act to attract young people to certain brands and encourage the next generation of smokers to start.
Nearly 8 in 10 young people surveyed in the South West think selling cigarettes in ‘plain packs’, with no colourful branding or logos, and larger health warnings, would make it easier for people to smoke less or quit. And 9 in 10 across the South West thought plain packs were less attractive than branded packs, showing how plain packaging could make a significant difference in deterring young smokers. Two thirds of all smokers start before they are 18 and the vast majority while still teenagers .
Devon MP, Mel Stride said: "I totally support the plain packaging campaign particularly as plain packaging is likely to play a strong part in reducing the number of children who try smoking. The majority of smokers start in their early years and this approach should have excellent long-term health benefits for many thousands of people."
Fiona Andrews, Director of Smokefree South West said: “The Plain Packs Protect campaign has really brought this issue to the fore in the UK and we’re delighted that so many people across the country are supporting the drive to change how tobacco companies promote their products. Most non-smokers have not looked at a cigarette pack in years and when they do many are astonished and horrified by how they now mimic those iconic possessions teenagers love best; IPods and ‘demi-slim’ perfume packets and use fashion house Vogue branding, LEGO look alike bricks and Click technology gimmicks to attract new customers. Is it any surprise that 8 out of 10 smokers start as children and teenagers?
“The bold step that Australia has taken in toning down the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco packaging acts as a model we hope to see the UK embrace and take the lead in the Northern Hemisphere. Surely actively promoting products that kill one in two long term smokers is outdated and should be challenged? We believe from the evidence that introducing standard plain packs could dramatically reduce the recruitment of yet another generation of our young people across the South West taking up a costly and damaging habit.”
Smoking remains the major cause of premature death and disease killing over 100,000 people in the UK each year , more than the next six causes of preventable death put together.