Call for plain cigarette packaging

Deputy Mayor Cllr. Alan Matthews
Deputy Mayor Cllr. Alan Matthews
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CALLS for cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging were today backed by town hall chiefs who want to prevent deaths from smoking.

But one former licensing chief claims even that does not go far enough and education is the key.

Blackpool still has a higher number of women who smoke when they are pregnant than anywhere else in the country along with shocking mortality rates attached to male smokers, and health chiefs believe banning attractive packaging will stop more people from lighting up.

And Blackpool Council’s health scrutiny committee voted unanimously to back the ban being considered by the Department of Health.

Committee chairman Coun Alan Matthews, himself a smoker, said: “It was unanimously agreed we should support the proposal for plain packaging.

“Anything which helps to dissuade young people from smoking has to be a good thing.

“I started smoking when I was young and If I had had any sense I would have stopped after my first cigarette. I have cut down but it’s very difficult to give up and the best thing is to try to do what we can to stop people from starting to smoke in the first place.

“Don’t start – that’s my advice.”

Committee member Coun Henry Mitchell said he backed the proposals but questioned whether the measures went far enough.

He added: “My question is, whether we’re going far enough.

“We need to look at how young people get the money to spend on cigarettes, and we need to go into schools and youth centres to educate young people.”

Blackpool’s newly formed Health and Wellbeing Board has already given its backing to the plain packaging campaign as part of the consultation.

A report to the committee says around 400 people die in Blackpool every year as a result of smoking and around 8,000 people suffer from smoking related illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

Approximately 38,000 people in the resort smoke – more than a quarter of the adult population.

Health chiefs want to remove trademarks, logos, colour schemes and graphics from cigarette packets although health warnings would still be required.

However the tobacco industry says the move would contravene international laws on competition and trademarks.

It is also claimed standardised packs would be easier to counterfeit than branded packs.