Cancer charity plea on smoking rate

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Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Half a million children in the UK will have their lives cut short by tobacco unless more is done to reduce smoking rates, a report has claimed.

Cancer Research UK based the figure on the estimated number of under-16s who are likely to become smokers as adults.

Out of a total population of 12 million children, 2.7 are predicted to take up the habit.

Death rates of smokers suggest that around 500,000 of this group are destined to die from smoking-related diseases.

The charity made the claim as it renewed a call for MPs to back the introduction of plain, standardised tobacco packaging when they vote on the issue in the coming weeks.

Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, said: “Our latest calculations reveal the appallingly high number of lives that will be lost unless we move faster to reduce the lethal impact of tobacco.

“We must challenge the idea that tobacco is a normal product if we’re to stop tobacco killing so many people. For too long tobacco has been allowed to cause illness and death.

“If we’re serious about health, we must do more to reduce smoking rates. Three years ago we began campaigning for cigarettes to be sold only in plain, standardised packaging, which evidence shows reduces the appeal of tobacco to children. We are delighted the Government is committed to achieving this, and the time has come to vote to save the lives of future generations.”

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison announced in January that the Government would vote on standardised tobacco packaging before the general election in May.

Assuming MPs support the idea, the new packs would then be introduced across the UK in 2016.

Smoking rates have fallen to around a fifth of the population in the UK, but the decline has slowed in recent years.

In Australia there is strong evidence that plain packaging has hit sales of tobacco, said Cancer Research UK. Between 2010 and 2013, when standard packs were introduced in Australia, the country saw a 15% reduction in smoking rates. Research had also shown that fewer young people in Australia were taking up smoking.

Official statistics showed that the trade in illegal, counterfeit tobacco in Australia had not climbed since the new packs were introduced.

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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