Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

How We Can Make Smoking History

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

How We Can Make Smoking History

Article excerpt

A TEESSIDE MP, health professionals and pupils from a Guisborough school are backing a campaign to introduce standardised, plain packaging of tobacco products to help protect children from taking up smoking.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham is supporting the Plain Packs Protect campaign from FRESH, in partnership with ASH, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK (CRUK).

More than 70,000 people nationwide have now put their names to a national Government consultation on whether standardised tobacco packaging would make them less attractive to young people.

The average age for smokers starting in Teesside is just 15 and every year, another 340,000 children in the UK are tempted to try smoking. Mr Cunningham, who campaigns in the House of Commons on smoking and health issues, said: "The crafty tobacco industry marketing people must bear the blame for helping encourage young people to smoke with their clever and sophisticated packs in bright colours and targeted very much at particular groups. If attractive packaging doesn't encourage people to try a brand or be seen to have a so-called 'cool' pack, why do they spend millions developing and promoting them? "I know, and the evidence proves that attractive marketing tools sell products and cigarettes are no different. Standard packaging would put a stop to that and we will see fewer young people start smoking - and suffer ill-health throughout their lives. For those reasons I'll continue to campaign for even greater constraints on the marketing of cigarettes." Mark Adams, assistant director of health improvement for Redcar and Cleveland, said: "Smoking is a childhood addiction. We know that the branding and design of tobacco packaging is used to make the product more attractive and to target specific audiences, including young people. Branding also distracts attention from the health message on the pack and misleads smokers about the harmfulness of different products. …

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