At today’s Council meeting (Wednesday 11th Sept.), Lib Dem Councillors Rod Blyth and John McCann will propose a motion calling on the Government to reinstate its commitment to introducing plain cigarette packaging.
The tobacco industry spends vast amounts of time and money targeting young people as they see them as the next generation of smokers.
In the North West, 4 out of 5 children who try smoking do so before they are 14 years old. Estimates from Cancer Research UK indicate that 24,846 children start smoking every year (or 478 children a week or 68 every day).
Health experts say there is strong evidence that un-branded packs would make them less appealing to children.
During the Government consultation last year, over 60,000 people in the North West signed up to support the Plain Packs Protect campaign run by Tobacco Free Futures to introduce plain, standardised tobacco packs and demand the end of glitzy cigarette packaging aimed at young people.
The tobacco industry has spent a significant sum opposing this measure. Japan Tobacco International ran a £2million campaign in the UK, which according to the Advertising Standards Authority breached the UK advertising code.
Of the motion, proposer Cllr Blyth said: “The big tobacco manufacturers are desperate to prevent this measure being introduced at all costs. When you manufacture a product that, despite being legal, is estimated to lead to the premature deaths of approximately half of its consumers you need to be constantly marketing your product to the next potential younger customer. Quite simply the Lib Dems want to discourage young people from smoking and instead support them in making healthy lifestyle choices – and the introduction of this measure through legislation is just one small measure to help do this.”
Cllr John McCann, seconding the motion, said: “Smoking kills; end of. This motion asks Councillors of all political persuasions to back the call of Oldham Liberal Democrats for the early re-introduction of this measure to help prevent the early deaths of anymore of our young people through smoking, as well as the ill-health and addiction that results through taking up smoking. At last Council, the Lib Dems proposed a motion for the Government to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. Unfortunately this was defeated with a block vote from the ruling party. I hope [our] colleagues will back us in supporting this much needed measure”.