"Lives will be lost" says Cancer Research UK as government stalls plans for standardised cigarette packaging

Cancer Research UK

TODAY (Friday) Cancer Research UK expressed dismay at the Government’s decision to bow to tobacco industry pressure and stall plans to protect children from a deadly product by removing all branding from cigarette packets.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "This decision is bitterly disappointing and lives will be lost as a result. What’s shocking is that more than 200,000 children start smoking every year in the UK. They are lured into an addiction that is often life-long but which kills half of all long term users. We can't stand by and watch as these lives are lost. The Government has stalled in the face of strong evidence and instead reacted to myths perpetuated by the tobacco industry, an industry well-known for suppressing the truth about its lethal products.”

Smoking causes more than a quarter of all deaths from cancer in the UK, with an estimated 100,000 deaths from smoking-related diseases in 2009.  Research shows that branding on cigarette packets makes them more attractive to children, with around 40 per cent of regular smokers reporting they started smoking before the age of 16.

Elizabeth Bailey, 48, a mother from Luton, said: “As a mum of two daughters, I’m extremely frustrated and angry that the Government is still delaying on the introduction of standard packs. Despite strong public support, they have chosen to listen to the tobacco industry and ignore evidence from the health community that shows standardised packaging will give children one less reason to start smoking. Young women are particularly vulnerable to tobacco companies’ marketing tactics and they are clearly being targeted. For the sake of my daughters, I urge the Prime Minister to let Parliament decide without further delay.”

Alan Peace, 67, a grandfather from Wolverhampton said: “I’m extremely disappointed the Government have been swayed by the myths put forward by the tobacco industry. I have two young grandchildren, and I don’t want them to take up smoking. The evidence is clear – glitzy packs make smoking more attractive to young people, so standard packs will give them one less reason to start. I don’t understand why the Government is delaying on this important issue.”

Dr Harpal Kumar added: “All companies use packaging as a form of marketing. The tobacco industry relies on packaging more than most, since other forms of advertising and promotion are closed to it. The Government had a choice: protect children from an addiction that kills 100,000 people in the UK every year or protect tobacco industry profits. We believe it has made the wrong choice. There’s strong public support for standard packs; we urge the Government to act now, without further delay.”


ENDS

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Notes to Editor

For the latest smoking statistics visit http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/types/lung/smoking/
 

Read more about Cancer Research UK’s campaign “Setting the Standard”: www.cancerresearchuk.org/standard-packs