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Taking politicians by storm at the political party conferences

by Laura Williams | Analysis

8 October 2012

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Cancer Awareness Roadshow

Our Cancer Awareness Roadshow has been at the Labour Party conference

It’s that time of year again. Unless you’ve been avoiding the news, you’ll know the political parties are out in (gale) force at their annual shindigs.

We’ve been braving the weather to attend the three main conferences, with the aim of shouting about our ideas to help prevent, control and beat cancer.

And this year, our major focus is plain packaging for tobacco products, which will help prevent kids from starting to smoke.

As regular readers will remember, we’ve been trying to persuade the Government to put tobacco products in de-branded, standardised packs, via our campaign – The answer is plain, which has already built huge support.

Now the public consultation is over, we want the Government to listen to our fantastic supporters, and bring in plain, standardised packaging at the first opportunity.

Nurses and David Collins

Ambassador David Collins with the nurses on our Roadshow

Since conference attendees include local and national politicians, party members and anyone who’s interested in political influencing, going to the conferences is a great way to continue to explain the evidence and respond to key tobacco industry myths.

Two weeks ago, we were in Brighton for the Liberal Democrat conference. Last week, we were up in Manchester for the Labour conference (where we also took our Cancer Awareness Roadshow). And this week we’re in Birmingham for the Conservatives’ get-together.

One of the most effective ways we’ve found to attract support is simply to show people some existing cigarette packs – many of which are recent innovations, and a step-change from what many conference delegates remember from their youth.

Tobacco packs

“A seductive marketing tool”

Of course, the tobacco industry will be at the party conferences too, and they’ll be fighting this all the way (despite the fact that their own documents show how important the pack is to recruiting the next generation of smokers).

We must do all we can to keep up the pressure on the Government to bring in plain, standardised packs. Over 80% of UK adults believe that children shouldn’t be exposed to tobacco marketing. Children and their parents don’t need this ‘silent salesman’, and we need Government to act now.


  • Laura Williams is Public Affairs Manager at Cancer Research UK