Stockton's Infinity Bridge

"Packet in" says the North East to tobacco companies

10 August 2012

Health campaigners Fresh today revealed high levels of public support to have all tobacco sold in  plain, standardised packaging are even greater than the huge wave of backing for smokefree law six years ago.

Over 13,500 people and every local council and primary care organisation, as well as dozens of other organisations across the North East, have supported the plain, standardised packaging of tobacco products to help prevent children from starting to smoke.

On the closing day of the Government's consultation asking for views on whether tobacco products should be sold in plain, standardised packaging (Friday August 10), figures show over 13,500 people in the North East and 200,000 people across the UK have demanded an end to glossy cigarette packs that help lure children to smoke. This is an unprecedented response and surpasses even the response for smokefree legislation back in 2005.

In the region there have been at least 129 supportive detailed submissions from the North East to the Department of Health's consultation from across health, local councils, fire and rescue, trading standards, voluntary organisations, local businesses, universities and many others.

A survey found 66% of adults in the North East support plain packaging, with only 10% opposing it. Cancer Research UK has also found 85% of North East adults think children should not be exposed to any kind of tobacco marketing.

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: "There has been unanimous support from the NHS and local authorities in the North East, as well as a range of other organisations who have understood the clear evidence behind the power of cigarette packs in helping attract children to smoking. Some of our MPs have commented this is the most correspondence they've ever had from local people on an issue.

"I am not surprised we have seen such high public support from thousands of mums, dads and grandparents passionate about protecting children from tobacco promotion. Whether you smoke or not, no parent wants their child to be addicted to cigarettes.

"The evidence for plain, standardised packaging is clear. More children and young people would see cigarette packs as unattractive and not be lured into smoking, with the lifetime of ill health and premature death which come with it. "

She added: "Plain packaging frightens the tobacco industry more than any other measure to reduce smoking. The tobacco executives know fewer young people starting to smoke means less profits. That is why they have devoted millions of pounds to try to derail plain packaging through making representations to Government and scare campaigns aimed at frightening shopkeepers."

The Association of North East Councils was just one regional organisation backing plain packaging to reduce children smoking in the future.

Cllr Paul Watson, Chair of the Association of North East Councils, said: "We firmly support the proposals for the introduction of plain tobacco packaging. Such a move would help in reducing premature deaths, disease and the appeal of smoking to young people and contribute to ending the long term harm smoking causes to the health and wellbeing of people in the North East.

"At a time when public health responsibilities are moving to councils, it is of concern that smoking remains our biggest avoidable public health problem and contributor to health inequalities. We therefore welcome solutions such as plain tobacco packaging which aim to change behaviour and prevent new smokers from starting."

For further information please contact:
Bethan Airey, Communications Officer, Association of North East Councils on 0191 261 3917 or 07957 823 864; email bethan.airey@northeastcouncils.gov.uk

Find out more:

  • Fresh released a short film showing reactions from members of the public out on the streets of the North East to glossy branded tobacco products, as well as plain packs.
  • FRESH, along with the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK (CRUK), ASH, and others is part of the Plain Packs Protect campaign http://www.plainpacksprotect.co.uk/  which is backing proposals for plain, standardised packaging of tobacco products.