Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has stepped up his campaign to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products after learning that over 600 children aged 10-14 are regular smokers in Stockton on Tees and lung cancer deaths in the borough are 40% higher than the national average.
The introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products, an idea currently put out to public consultation by the Department of Health, is a vital step in protecting young people from tobacco marketing.
The tobacco industry is relying more and more on stylish tobacco packs to recruit new smokers, and with 8 out of 10 smokers starting by the age of 19, plain packs will take us one step closer to a future when people don’t start smoking in the first place.
Recent statistics have also shown that more people in Stockton (35 per 100, 000) die of lung cancers before they are 75 when the national average is 25 per 100,000. The rate of smoking related deaths is also much higher in Stockton than the English average – 260 per 100,000 compared with 216 per 100,000.
“Smoking is quite simply an addiction of childhood – 80% of smokers become addicted by the age of 19, and therefore we need urgent action from the government to discourage young people from starting smoking in the first place.
“Studies have shown that plain packs are significantly less attractive to young people than branded cigarettes and therefore if they were to be introduced, fewer adolescents will be tempted to start smoking.
“The facts speak for themselves – too many people are dying early in Stockton due to smoking related diseases.
“I am being inundated with e-mails from people demanding I support plain packaging for cigarettes – rest assured I will continue to fight on this issue to secure a healthier future for the people of our Borough.”