Parents in Rochdale are fighting to protect children from smoking by signing up to support the introduction of plain, standardised packaging at the weekend.
Representatives from Tobacco Free Futures talked to parents about packaging problems and more than 1,200 signatures were collected for the Plain Packs Protect campaign.
Ian White, Communications Manager at Tobacco Free Futures, said that smoking is a problem in the Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale area and the campaign needs to be supported and is a step forward from the display ban which was introduced in April."
He said: “Packaging is only a small part of the process but evidence suggests that plain packaging will stop young people from smoking.”
According to a 2011 survey commissioned by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) there were 522,200 smokers in Greater Manchester with 39,700 smokers in Rochdale specifically.
The Plain Packs Protect campaign is calling for plain, standardised tobacco packaging and feeds into a national three month consultation on plain tobacco packaging which the Government launched on April 16.
The consultation will decide whether there is support for standardised packaging of tobacco products in an aim to reduce the number of young people taking up smoking.
Abbie Paton, Acting Manager of the Stop Smoking Service at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, said that plain packaging for cigarettes would mean children and young people are less likely to start smoking.
“This is because adolescents view packs without colour, fonts and imagery as less appealing. Put simply, plainer packaging leads them to expect a more negative experience,” she said.
“Another benefit of plain packaging is that it makes the warning messages that cigarettes carry starker as evidence shows that both adults and young people consider brands with coloured packs and which use certain words less damaging to health and less addictive.”
Nigel Magowan, Integrative Psychologist at Inner Changes in Manchester, uses hypnosis to assist people in quitting smoking says there are other reasons that encourage young people to smoke.
He said: “I think it’s more about peer pressure and things like that. I can’t see how the packaging itself would be that appealing.”
Australia is the first country to enforce plain packaging as a law and should come into force in December this year and the UK is the second country to be proposing it.
There are 20 days left to sign up to the campaign which will see hundreds of thousands of postcards being sent to the government.
To sign up or for more information visit http://www.tobaccofreefutures.org/plainpacksprotect/