People urged to sign petition to back cancer charity’s initiative

PEOPLE in the East Midlands have just a few days left to back a major campaign to help stop children across the region from becoming the next generation of smokers.

Cancer Research UK is issuing a rallying cry for people to sign a petition in support of the charity’s The answer is plain initiative, which calls for cigarette packets to be stripped of their seductive branding.

The plea comes as a UK-wide consultation on whether all tobacco products should be sold in packs of uniform, size shape and design along with big health warnings – otherwise known as ‘plain packs’ – is due to close on 10th August.

The charity believes that plain packs are vital to help discourage young people from starting to smoke, as research shows that the striking logos and distinctive designs of current cigarette packets make them more appealing to children.

Paul Wadsworth, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the East Midlands, said: “Now that advertising tobacco is illegal, the tobacco industry is relying more and more on glitzy packs to recruit the 100,000 new smokers they need to replace those who die from the habit each year in the UK.

“That’s why we’re making an urgent appeal for people to sign our petition and help stop the tobacco industry peddling its deadly wares in a way children find so alluring.

“This is not about curbing the freedoms of existing adult smokers; it’s about giving kids one less reason to start smoking in the first place.”

A recent survey by Cancer Research UK found that the majority of smokers and ex-smokers in the East Midlands – more than eight in 10 (83 per cent) – regret ever starting.*

It also showed that around three-quarters (76 per cent) of these people took up smoking regularly when they were still only teenagers.

And when they first started buying a specific brand regularly, around a third (34%) chose to smoke the same brand of cigarettes as their family and friends.

The figures add to the growing evidence of support behind Cancer Research UK’s The answer is plain campaign, with almost eight in 10 (78%) of people in the East Midlands agreeing that tobacco marketing is harmful to children.

Paul Wadsworth added: “Most smokers wish they’d never started, so it’s clear just how addictive tobacco is and it’s especially hard to quit if people have started at a young age.

“We know plain packs with large health warnings reduce the appeal of cigarettes to young people and help to make the dangers of smoking clearer. We also know the big tobacco companies will do everything they can to try and block the measure.

“So it’s up to the public now to show their support and seize this unique opportunity to protect children from a lethal product that kills half of all its long term users.”

People in the East Midlands are urged to sign Cancer Research UK’s petition for plain packaging on cigarettes before 10th August at www.theanswerisplain.org.