A Knightswood mum is among parents across Britain supporting a campaign for cigarette manufacturers to be forced to use plain packaging.
Cancer Research UK launched its ‘The Answer is Plain’ campaign for all branding to be taken off cigarette packets, a move the charity says would help prevent young people taking up smoking. It coincides with a UK Government consultation on standardising tobacco packaging.
Knightswood mum-of-two Fiona McCallum is urging people across Greater Glasgow to sign a petition in support of the campaign. The home carer was a 20-a-day smoker since her teens but gave up after she lost her beloved mother Ruby to lung cancer.
She said: “I’ve seen how driven by branding my children are in the clothes and shoes they want to wear, so I am sure cigarette packaging is just as alluring. The array of different packaging young people are confronted with today is frightening.
“From limited editions to patterned cigarettes and packs shaped like perfume bottles, kids are picking a fancy cigarette packet to put in their school bags. Going through the trauma of seeing my mum die of lung cancer means my children will never smoke, but so many kids don’t think it can hurt them.”
A shocking video produced by Cancer Research UK showed how young children are drawn to colourful tobacco packages. It shows scenes of six to 11-year-olds innocently discussing what attracts them to cigarette packs.
The children’s reactions to the packs include: “It makes you feel like you’re in a wonderland of happiness”; “The pictures actually look quite nice. Ice cubes and mint”; “It reminds me of a Ferrari”; “Is that the Royal Sign?”; and “Yeah. Pink, Pink, Pink”. The video can be viewed at the bottom of this page.
Cancer Research UK has released figures showing the great majority of the Scottish and British public believe branding on cigarette packets is harmful to children. Its report found 70 per cent of Scots think the stylish, colourful branding, striking logos and distinctive packet designs make tobacco products more appealing to kids.
An overwhelming 86 per cent of respondents in Scotland agreed they should not be exposed to any form of tobacco marketing. This closely followed the UK-wide view, with 84 per cent of British adults taking the same line.
Vicky Crichton, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for Scotland, said: ”Parents know cleverly designed packaging plays a significant role in attracting children to certain brands. When we are talking about tobacco then it’s time to change the law.
“We have a unique opportunity to protect children from the marketing of this deadly product. This is not about ‘the nanny state’. This is about us as a society saying that it is wrong for tobacco – a product that kills half all its long term users – to be marketed to children as though it were a bag of sweets.
“Our survey shows people across the country clearly support action to get rid of one of the last ways the tobacco industry can market its products. So we’re asking them to sign our petition and help end the ‘packet racket’.”
The devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland agreed to the UK Government’s department of health running its consultation across the whole country. It could ultimately see an end to all colour and branding on cigarette packets sold in Britain.
Andrew Lansley, a conservative minister and the health secretary of the coalition government, explained: “Smoking remains one of the most significant challenges to public health. Each year it accounts for over 100,000 deaths in the UK and one in two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking disease.
“The health ministers across the UK have a responsibility to look closely at initiatives that might encourage smokers to quit and stop young people not taking up smoking in the first place. Through this consultation we want to hear as many views as possible about whether tobacco packing should remain unchanged, plain packaging should be adopted or a different option should be considered.”
A quarter of Scottish adults still smoke. Cutting the number of young people taking up the habit would have a major impact on the country’s future health.
Knightswood parent Fiona McCallum is fully behind the call to end cigarette branding. She added: “I support any measure that makes cigarettes less attractive to children. My mum was a wonderful family person and it kills me that cigarettes killed her.
“If anyone could see how my mum suffered they would never take up this terrible addiction. Her decline was so rapid and seeing this determined, hard working, strong woman just fade away was heart breaking for us all. That’s why I’m urging everyone to sign Cancer Research UK’s petition and help stub out tobacco marketing to young people.”
You can sign up to Cancer Research UK’s petition by clicking this link. Knightswood campaigner Fiona McCallum is running in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life event in Glasgow next month, raising funds for the charity in her mother Ruby’s memory. To support her click here.
The shocking video showing how children are drawn to cigarette branding can be viewed here:
Should all branding be removed from cigarette packets? Does it harm children? Leave your comments here, via our facebook page, or by emailing email@example.com