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From the Chairman

"How it is possible for the tobacco companies even to be allowed to sell products that ultimately kill young people?"

@schoolcouncils tweet 13th April 2012

The Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley has announced a Government consultation on plain, standardised packaging of tobacco products on Monday 16th April. If you would like to find out more about plain packaging, here is the address: www.plainpacksprotect.co.uk

The consultation period is now open. We have made our submission. If you would like to make yours, here's the address: http://consultations.dh.gov.uk

Our position is clearly to support Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and others in their initiative to get plain packaging implemented. Why so?

The plain packaging would see identical packaging across all brands of cigarettes, so that one pack of cigarettes would look pretty much like any other.

The argument as to whether smoking harms health has long since been won. Only the flat-earthers would maintain a position that smoking does no harm. So the question then arises that we asked above "How it is possible for the tobacco companies even to be allowed to sell products that ultimately kill young people." Nobody in their right mind would want to harm their children. And yet it happens daily, hourly.

The vast majority of young people say they do not want to consume their parents' smoke, so we can safely deduce that young people do not want to smoke. Those who smoke are the victims who get caught up, for whatever reason. They are the victims, seduced by the marketing, by the apparent attractiveness of the brands. That attractiveness is clearly an illusion – the original cowboy Marlboro Man died of lung cancer.

Young people have a right to have a say over matters that affect their lives. We support that right and we support any young person who wants to exercise that right.

Very clever, very sophisticated marketing is employed by the tobacco companies to make their products ever more attractive and saleable to young people, so that the tobacco companies have a sure continuing revenue stream and guaranteed profits. Is that good for young people? Clearly not.

In our view, anything that undermines the apparent attractiveness of cigarettes will result in lower consumption and lower death rates. In our submission, we said:

"It is also self-evident that anything that makes the smoking habit less attractive is likely to lead to a decreased uptake of smoking in young people. I believe and trust the scientific evidence put by ASH and others, who clearly conclude that standardised packaging is the right direction of travel to help prevent young people from taking up smoking and making smoking less attractive". We do not accept the phoney a-bridge-too-far arguments of the tobacco companies. The truth is that if plain packaging didn't serve to reduce attractiveness and sales, the tobacco companies wouldn't be fighting plain packaging tooth and claw, which they are doing and will continue to do.