A plain message to smokers

A HARTLEPOOL mum has welcomed legislation on the other side of the world to make cigarettes less attractive to children.

Plain tobacco packaging comes into effect in Australia from tomorrow, and the North East campaign group FRESH is calling on the UK government to follow its example.

Out will go colourful, glossy packs and in will come drab grey-green boxes featuring larger, harder-hitting picture warnings - with pictures of damaged lungs and hearts, gangrenous feet and cancerous tumours.

Lisa Taylor, 35, from Hartlepool, said she would support the introduction of standardised, plain packs if it prevents young people from being attracted to colourful tobacco brands.

She said: “I first started smoking when I was 11 years old as a way to fit in with groups of friends. At the time, I remember that there were two main brands that everyone had to be seen to be smoking – one of the brands came in a shiny gold packet and looked more expensive.

“To me and my friends, the gold packet suggested that it was a stronger cigarette in taste, so we went for the one that looked like it was milder.

“Now, every day when I take my kids to school I see so many young people smoking brands with much more attractive packaging. Someone showed me this really cool-looking slide pack which I’d never seen before - I couldn’t believe my eyes because the pack was being played with like a toy.

“I quit smoking in June 2011 and feel so much better for it.”

A YouGov poll found that 66 per cent of North-East adults said they would support the sale of tobacco in standardised packaging, with only 11 per cent opposing.