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Government must put children’s health before tobacco’s profits

by Alan Worsley | Analysis

2 May 2013

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Girl looking at plain pack

Children are lured by tobacco packaging

Next Wednesday, in a ceremony full of tradition and colour, the Queen marks the formal start of the parliamentary year.

This will include a speech that sets out the government’s agenda for the coming session, outlining proposed policies and legislation.

We’ve been urging the government to seize this opportunity to replace the slickly designed tobacco packaging with packs of uniform size, shape and colour.

But we’re very concerned by today’s newspaper reports that the government is backing away from including legislation in the speech.

We believe it’s a grave mistake to allow the current situation to continue.

The public consultation on the future of tobacco packaging closed in August 2012 and we’ve been impatiently waiting since then to hear what this government will do about this issue.

Impatiently waiting because every day the government delays taking action sees more than 500 under 16s being lured into smoking, an addiction that will kill half of all long term smokers.

Tens of thousands of our supporters have added their voice to our campaign to protect children from tobacco industry marketing, so we know the public backs this measure. 

The evidence shows plain, standardised packs reduce the appeal of smoking, and experts from across the fields of health and law enforcement are fully behind the move.

You might wonder who could possibly oppose this measure. The answer is simple – the group with the most to lose, the tobacco industry and the groups they fund.

Because fewer smokers mean lower profits and less money in the bank for the industry.

If this government doesn’t act, the tobacco industry will get the green light to continue targeting our children with sophisticated and slick designs.

You may have also seen this Japan Tobacco International (JTI) ad popping up in national newspapers recently, part of the £2million advertising campaign that JTI are waging against the introduction of plain packaging.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

We’ve written before about misleading and unsubstantiated ads from JTI, which have been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency.

When the tobacco industry is desperate enough to spend so much money on misleading the public, we know we must be on the right path. Private Eye magazine published its own spoof version of the above JTI ad, which we thought was too good not to share:

Reproduced by kind permission of PRIVATE EYE magazine

Reproduced by kind permission of PRIVATE EYE magazine

Indeed… we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.