Cigarette health warnings ‘not up to the job’ in South West
Only a third of teenagers in the South West are deterred from smoking by current cigarette packs, compared to almost half in Australia, where packs are almost entirely covered by graphic warnings, according to a unique cross-hemisphere survey.
The British Heart Foundation’s poll of 13 to 18-year-olds revealed 80% of teenagers in the South West think the UK should introduce standardised cigarette packs.
And the survey also paints a picture of support for standardised packs from Australia’s youth with 59% saying the packs make people their age less likely to smoke. Two thirds 66% of Australian teens think the packs should be introduced elsewhere in the world.
Worryingly, 14% of teenagers in the region made the incorrect assumption that certain cigarette brands are healthier than others – nearly three times the number (5%) of Australian teens.
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A third (38%) of teenagers in the region said the packets would put them off smoking comparing to 38% in Australia.
Results of the survey, which questioned almost 700 youngsters, were released ahead of tomorrow’s tuesvote in the European Parliament which would see cigarette packs across the EU feature larger graphic health warnings on both sides of the box.
Simon Gillespie, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “The message from our young people in the South West is loud and clear – current health warnings aren’t up to the job and the UK Government must step up and introduce standardised packs.
“Smoking kills 100,000 people in the UK every year and we simply can’t wait any longer for legislation. Australia has led the way on standardised packs, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland have committed, and now the rest of the UK must act to protect future generations from a deadly habit.”
Later this month, the House of Lords will also debate a cross-party amendment to the Children and Families Bill, which could help standardised packaging become a reality in the UK.
Under the reform, cigarette packs will be a generic size which, research shows, makes warnings about the harmful effects of cigarettes stand out more.
Mr Gillespie added: “The evidence shows standardised packs increase the effectiveness of health warnings and lessen the appeal of cigarettes, particularly among young people, so it’s imperative MEPs vote for larger health warnings and then peers agree to amend the Children and Families Bill.”