Cancer Research UK has sent an urgent plea to the Government today – calling for politicians to protect children and young people from tobacco advertising – to stop tobacco taking even more lives, today.

The petition is part of the charity’s out of sight and out of mind*. It calls on politicians to close the loophole allowing tobacco to be displayed at the point of sale, to prohibit the sale of tobacco from vending machines and to make plain packaging for tobacco products compulsory.

Over 50,000 members of the public have signed up to Cancer Research UK’s petition which will be delivered to Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo by Naomi Hodgson, an 18 year old anti-tobacco advocate. Richard Davidson, Cancer Research UK’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “Tobacco advertising has been banned on television, in print and on billboards. Yet children are still regularly exposed to branding on packs and attractive tobacco displays in shops, newsagents and supermarkets. We know that by removing tobacco from public view we can reduce the pull towards a potentially deadly addiction.”

The petitioners will be joined by David Taylor MP, chair of the all party parliamentary group on smoking and health, who said: “This campaign is crucial as the measures Cancer Research UK is calling for could have a real impact on the number of smokers in the UK. As over 80 per cent of smokers start before the age of 19, it’s particularly important that we focus on young people.”

Many young people, particularly underage smokers, buy cigarettes from vending machines. Removing these machines altogether is the only effective means of preventing underage smokers obtaining cigarettes from these sources.

Naomi, who has written an anti-smoking film for young people as part of the charity’s Breathe** filmmaking competition, said: “I feel very strongly that this campaign will help young people like me and my friends keep away from this terrible addiction. I’m here today to tell the Government that it’s time to take real action to reduce the amount of young people taking up smoking.”

On-pack branding, including logos and colour schemes, makes cigarettes more appealing to young people and dilutes the impact of health warnings. Studies show that plain packaging – removing these attractive, promotional aspects – could result in fewer teenagers starting smoking.

Cancer Research UK is working in partnership with other charities and organisations to help put tobacco out of sight and out of mind.

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of health information, said: “Smoking causes more than 34,000 deaths in the UK every year. 75 per cent of people who smoke say they would like to give up and the ban on smoking in workplaces has meant a big increase in the number of people quitting smoking.

“But, evidence from other countries shows we need to take further crucial measures to reduce the accessibility, availability and affordable cost of cigarettes if we’re going to protect the future generation from the serious harm caused by smoking.”


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*For more details about Out of Sight, Out of Mind, please visit

** Breathe is filmmaking project from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4’s 4Talent, which ran from 2007-2008. The project produced a selection of short online virals written by teenagers to encourage young smokers to quit and deter others from starting. The winning viral short films – including Naomi’s ‘Slaughterhouse’ – can be viewed on the Breathe website

About Cancer Research UK

  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to beat cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients.
  • Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make.
  • Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer.
  • For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7121 6699 or visit our homepage.