In March last year I called for a ban on smoking in children’s play areas. The result of this ban was a 12% drop in cases of childhood asthma in the following year. Now it is time for the Government to go further in protecting our young people from the dangers of smoking by introducing standardised packaging on all tobacco products.
Yesterday, I spoke in the Commons to outline why I think standardised cigarette packaging needs to be brought in. You can read a transcript of my speech here but I will address the key points in this blog and why I think it is time for the Government to act .
Last July Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that the decision to introduce plain cigarette packaging would be delayed until a similar scheme in Australia could be assessed. Well the results are in.
A study by the Cancer Council of Victoria which showed that when young people view cigarette packs stripped of colours and logos, they believe the cigarettes are lower quality, will taste worse and are less appealing.
And if that’s not enough the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found that 36 per cent of UK teenagers are deterred by plain cigarette packs, compared with 48 per cent of their Australian counterparts.
A lot of research went into finding the most unappealing colour for the standardised packaging of cigarettes.
The grotty dark green/grey colour was settled on and has proved to be an effective deterrent to young people taking up smoking. If the cigarettes themselves were a similarly unappealing colour the number of young people trying cigarettes for the first time would be cut even more. I called for such legislation in my speech to the House.
I have campaigned for tougher legislation on the tobacco industry in the past and in October I submitted an Early Day Motion to the House calling for Government action on standardised packaging.
The delay in the passage of this bill has concerned me for a number of reasons. Firstly questions remain over whether special advisors have unduly influenced Conservative Ministers when they decided to postpone the bill last July.
Equally disturbing are the bogus claims of some Unions that argue standardised packaging will cause UK job losses and the Labour politicians who blindly agree with their union paymasters.
You have to ask yourself, if standardised packaging won’t act as a deterrent to taking up smoking why are big tobacco companies spending hundreds of millions campaigning against it?
It is time for both Labour and Conservatives to stop representing the interests of the unions and Big Business and put the needs of the UK public first.
All the experts agree, it is time for the Government to stop dithering and bring in legislation which will encourage healthy lifestyle choices and save the NHS Billions in the long run.