A teenager from Knowsley is speaking out in support of standardised tobacco packs and wants the Government to introduce legislation after attending an event on the power of cigarette packaging this week.
The event was organised by Tobacco Free Futures, a social enterprise that works with Merseyside local authorities to tackle tobacco in the region. The event explored how tobacco companies use glitzy and sophisticated packaging to entice young people into a life time of addiction.
Olivia Vanden Bos, 17, who lives in Prescot and attends Youth Action in Merseyside said: “I tried smoking once and chose the packet because it was shiny and fun. If standardised packaging was introduced you would only be able to see the bad side effects like a photo of rotting teeth, it would catch your eye for the bad things. Young people are attracted to things that are colourful and catch your eye so standardised packaging would definitely make a difference.
“Today has been really good; I have learnt lots about smoking and I never knew there was a campaign to change tobacco packaging.”
Across the North West 64% of the public are now in favour of standardised tobacco packaging according to a recent YouGov survey, with only 11% apposing.
Matthew Ashton Director of Public Health for Knowsley Council, and tobacco lead for Cheshire and Merseyside said: “It’s great to see young people in Knowsley taking an interest in tobacco industry tactics and making a stand against marketing through cigarette packaging.
“Investing in educating young people now is important to prevent them entering into an addiction before they know what addiction is. Events like today are an effective way of engaging and inspiring young people to learn more and get involved.
“I hope they will now go on and pass on today’s learning to their families and friends, inspiring change across their communities.”
Andrea Crossfield, Chief Executive of Tobacco Free Futures said: “I am delighted that we have been able to bring together young people today to find out more about the tobacco industry and why standardised packaging is needed.
“Glitzy, colourful and glamorous cigarette packaging helps to attract the next generation of tobacco industry customers to replace the one in two smokers who die from their addiction. Unfortunately we see 18,000 young people take up smoking every year in the North West and this is something that needs to be prevented.
“We know that support for standardised packaging in Knowsley is strong, with over 1,080 people urging the government to remove branding and protect children during a public consultation in 2012. I hope that the Government will listen and implement legislation to prevent children being targeted in the future.”