Cancer Focus Northern Ireland is calling on the public to take part in the government consultation into plain packaging for cigarettes which runs until 10th August.
Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention, said, “Every year 340,000 children in the UK are tempted to smoke _ that’s an estimated 10,000 children here in Northern Ireland. Glossy packs are vital tools for the tobacco industry - they make cigarettes seem appealing and attract thousands of young people to buy them. Tobacco companies take every opportunity to maximise this by using shiny materials, holograms and colours to create a positive association with cigarette brands.
“The introduction of plain packaging will make cigarettes less attractive to consumers and will increase the effectiveness of health warnings. These warnings are currently competing with brand logos and colours but under the proposed legislation, all trademarks, colour schemes and graphics will be banned making health warnings more obvious.
“Plain packaging for cigarettes has overwhelming support from the general public. A YouGov Poll in March 2012 showed that 64% of local people support this measure.
“In Northern Ireland smoking caused an estimated 16,696 admissions to hospitals in 2010/11 with hospital treatment of smoking related diseases costing a massive £119m per year. The total costs to the Health Service and indeed to our whole society are much greater.
“Cancer Focus supports plain packs as a major step forward in our strategy to reduce smoking-related ill health and premature death. We call on all our supporters, heath organisations, politicians and the public to show their support for plain packs by registering their vote at www.communityni.org/campaign/plain-packs
* Cancer Focus Northern Ireland is using NICVA’s campaign platform Act UP (www.actupni.org) to promote the plain packaging campaign. This platform is for any charitable organisation to use to harness the collective strength and solidarity of the voluntary and community sector. Organisations can also use it to email their local MLA, link in with their social media campaign or simply to shout about their lobbying activity, free of charge.