On tobacco packaging, the answer is plain

Along with others, Cancer Research UK is trying to make sure the tobacco industry’s fears are realised with their “The Answer Is Plain” campaign.

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Robin Hewings is the tobacco control manager at Cancer Research UK

“It makes me feel quite cool… It makes you feel stylish and that, kind of upper class.”

It looks as if you’re like more mature. Better and more popular.”

Cigarette-packetTeenagers often talk like this about a new T-shirt or trainers. But they are also what young people say about cigarette brands in a new report (pdf) released this week by Cancer Research UK.

For teenagers, cigarette packs can be about more than nice colours but something far more important. It’s about the image they want to show the world. Cool. Mature. Popular.

It is one of the reasons 157,000 11- to 15-year-olds start smoking every year. Enough to fill 5,200 classrooms.

And it’s a reason we can do something about it. Later this year Australia will put all tobacco in plain packs, which all look the same in a standardised colour, font, size and shape with big picture warnings. All four UK nations have just begun a consultation for our country to have the same policy.

This matters to Cancer Research UK because a quarter of deaths from cancer are caused by tobacco.

So alongside our scientific breakthroughs to find new treatments for cancer, we look for ways to stop people getting cancer in the first place. And one of the best ways to do that is to stop kids from starting smoking.

As a country, we have achieved a lot. Cigarettes are no longer advertised on TV or on billboards or Formula One cars. Half as many children aged 11-15 start smoking as they did only 15 years ago. The tobacco industry opposed all the policies that made a difference. They blew a gasket when plain packs were suggested in Australia and spent millions on adverts and front groups to make their case.

We can expect much more of this in the next few months.


See also:

How plain packaging on cigarettes will work 16 Apr 2012

Is Big Tobacco blowing smoke in Cameron’s eyes? 10 Jun 2011

Government is right to take action on tobacco packaging 9 Mar 2011


Experts in how to cut smoking and health groups support the policy because it makes cigarettes less attractive. The tobacco industry hates it because it makes their products less attractive.

It is the development they fear most.

Along with others, Cancer Research UK is trying to make sure the tobacco industry’s fears are realised with our campaign “The Answer Is Plain”. We want British teens to have the same protection from tobacco marketing as in Australia. That really would be cool.

View this shocking video footage of 6- to 11-year-olds talking about cigarette packets:

• For more information go to www.theanswerisplain.org.


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