A CAMPAIGN aiming to deter children from taking up smoking is being backed by council and health officials in North Tyneside.
Borough mayor Linda Arkley has joined Newcastle-based anti-smoking campaign group Fresh and National Health Service chiefs in backing calls for tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging to make them less attractive to children.
More than 60,000 people around the country have pledged their support for the campaign, currently the subject of a government consultation.
Mrs Arkley said: “I very much support this campaign.
“Tobacco is full of harmful, addictive chemicals, and we need standardised packaging to help prevent young people attracted to glamorous packaging from starting to smoke.
“The tobacco industry spends millions of pounds on designing its products to lure in young people, and we need more action to protect the vulnerable from the harmful effects of tobacco marketing.”
Marietta Evans, director of public health for North Tyneside, said: “Two thirds of regular smokers start before the age of 18, so it is essential that we look at measures that will help to stop young people taking up the smoking habit.”
Fresh director Ailsa Rutter added: “Smoking remains our biggest killer in the north east, with 11 deaths a day from smoking related disease.
“We would encourage everyone to pledge their support for this to help protect the next generation of young people from taking up smoking and suffering from a lifetime of addiction and ill health.”
For more about the Plain Packs Protect campaign or to pledge your support visit www.freshne.com/plainpacks
Dr Stephen Bourke, a consultant physician at North Tyneside General Hospital, said: “Child smokers can show signs of addiction within four weeks of starting to smoke.
“Those who start to smoke at a young age are more likely to be heavier smokers, with a higher dependency and much higher chance of dying earlier.”