December 18 2013 Latest news:
Monday, June 25, 2012
Their views will form part of a government consultation
A group of youngsters from across the county have backed calls for the introduction of plain tobacco packaging in a bid to cut the number of under 18s starting smoking.
The group, called REframe, met to have their say in response to a government consultation.
Every year, 340,000 children in England try smoking for the first time – and 200,000 under-16s become regular smokers.
Research shows they are more likely to be attracted by promotional packaging, which also reduced the impact of health warnings.
Megan Wallace, 14, from the REframe steering group, said: “Most people start smoking before they turn 18, and lots of research shows that children are more attracted to flashy, designed packaging.
“That’s why the REframe project involves children at all levels, so that we can have our voices heard on the issues that affect us.”
The work of the REframe group is also supported by Kent Youth County Council and Mid Kent College Students’ Union.
Tamanna Miah, outgoing chair of Kent Youth County Council, said: “It’s shocking that some tobacco companies continue to use glamorous packaging as a way of getting young people to smoke.
“Smoking costs the NHS millions of pounds and we should all get behind this campaign to help stop young people from taking up smoking.”
President of MidKent College Students’ Union, Matt Stanley, said: “Every year 340,000 children try smoking for the first time.
“Research and surveys from around the world indicate that plain packs are less appealing, help make young people more aware of the health warnings and stop them believing that some cigarettes are less harmful than others,” he said.
An online petition backing the plain packaging has already been signed by more than 90,000 people.
It will be submitted for consideration by the Government as part of its consultation.
Graham Gibbens, KCC cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said: “Kent’s youth have spoken and we need to listen and respond by supporting them.
“The idea behind this proposal is to stop cigarette packaging acting as an advert itself.
“Tempting young people into a highly-addictive habit could seriously damage their health and lead to an early death. We urge people to participate in the consultation and make their views about plain packaging heard.”
Meradin Peachey, Kent’s director of public health, said: “Quitting smoking is the single most important thing that smokers can do to improve their health. But even better is not starting in the first place.
“Our view is that any sensible measure that discourages people from smoking is worthwhile for their health, and that of those close to them – and we would ask for everyone who shares this view to visit the website and make your views known.”