Youngsters from a Cambridge school, who are planning a protest outside a giant tobacco company’s London offices, are to meet MP Julian Huppert to tell him about their campaign for plain cigarette packaging.
Eight students at the North Cambridge Academy in Arbury Road will meet Julian on Thursday, April 24 six days before their planned demonstration.
The students are working as mentors at the school for the young person-led smoking prevention programme for the under 16s, Kick Ash.
They will tell Julian about the work they are doing in Cambridgeshire to campaign for plain packaging and about their protest outside British American Tobacco’s annual meeting in London on Wednesday, April 30.
Julian has been lobbying the government to ban tobacco companies from using brightly coloured cigarette packaging and has raise the issue at PMQs as well as in a Westminster debate on the issue.
He is worried the packets entice young children to smoke and they get hooked on the highly addictive nicotine.
Julian said: “I am looking forward to hearing about the students’ campaign on plain packaging. I congratulate them for taking up this issue which is so important if we are to stop future generations of young people becoming addicted to nicotine with all the health issues that brings.
“Cigarette packaging is the final legal form of advertising left for the tobacco companies and I believe stopping it would help to protect future generations. I have no problem with a person’s right to choose to smoke, but I want that decision to be made as an adult with all the facts, not as a child.”
Health Minister, Jane Ellison recently announced in response to pressure from Julian and others that she will be bringing forward draft legislation alongside a short consultation to provide for standardised packaging.
She said a recent review “makes a compelling case that if standardised packaging were introduced it would be very likely to have a positive impact on public health”. And she said she wanted to introduce it “as swiftly as possible”.
Julian voted for powers in the Children and Families Act to allow the government to proceed with plain packaging regulations.
He said: “I am delighted the government is acting on this hugely important issue. I hope that it can be introduced quickly so that we can discourage our young people from starting a habit which could have serious consequences for their future health.”
Evidence suggests that children are more likely to be attracted by colourful packaging than plain packaging. In an online survey 87 per cent of children rated plain packaging as “uncool” and said they wouldn’t want to be seen with plain packs.