Have your say on plain packets to prevent teens being lured into smoking
SMOKING remains one of the biggest challenges to public health across the country, accounting for more than 86,000 deaths every year.
NHS Hull is urging people to have their say on plain packaging for cigarettes in a bid to stop children and young people taking up the habit.
The Government has launched a public consultation that looks at the benefits of passing a law meaning tobacco companies must sell cigarettes in plain packs and we have until Tuesday, July 10, to voice our opinions.
The aims of plain packaging of cigarettes is to:
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Make them less attractive, particularly to young people.
Make the health warnings stand out more.
Reduce the ability of the packaging to mislead consumers about the harms of smoking.
If the move goes ahead all tobacco products will look the same and all brand names will have to be a standard typeface colour and size, while logos, colour schemes and graphics will be banned.
Plain packaging is just part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce the uptake of smoking by young people and premature deaths from smoking-related diseases.
The policy would follow the UK ban on tobacco advertising, imposed in 2003, and the ban on smoking in public places and workplaces, introduced in 2007.
Both have been credited with helping reduce smoking rates and discouraging young people from taking up the habit.
Since April this year it has been illegal to display tobacco products at the point of sale in large stores across England and the same rules will be brought into force for smaller shops in 2015.
John Sandford, Hull City Council's principal trading standards officer, said: "The idea of plain packaging is to reduce its attractiveness and make them less appealing to young people in Hull and across the region.
"Although there is a point of view that plain packaging could be easily counterfeited we don't think that's the case as there are measures already in place to make this more difficult."
In Australia, plain packaging is to be introduced in December and campaigners have said it will have an immediate effect.
April Cundy, of NHS Hull, said: "Young people need to be aware of the methods the tobacco industry use to sell products to them specifically."
April urged people to protect the health of future generations by voicing their concerns and support plain packaging.
She said: "The consultation is an opportunity to protect the health of our children.
"This really is the chance to have your say and possibly alter the course of legislation."
The public consultation will be open for responses until Tuesday, July 10, and anyone with an interest including individuals and business, is urged to respond.
Putting tobacco products in plain packaging is essential because tobacco packs are now the major promotional tool for the tobacco industry and it is children who take up smoking: two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18.
Have your say at www.plainpacks protect.co.uk to sign the petition or www.consultations.dh.gov.uk for the full consultation and more information.
There is already widespread public support for requiring tobacco to be sold in plain standardised packaging with the product name in standard lettering, similar to those that will be required in Australia from December this year.
A recent poll showing an example of a plain pack found that in the Yorkshire and the Humber overall 61 per cent of adults supported this while just 10 per cent opposed the measure.
For more information on all issues around tobacco, visit www. smokesnojoke.com or www.ash.org. uk
If you want to quit smoking, free support is available with your local NHS Stop Smoking Service. From individual to group support sessions, in person or over the phone, the service offers a method of quitting to suit you.
Call freephone 0800 9155959. Visit www.readytostopsmoking.co.uk or text QUIT to 61825