HEALTH experts in Wigan believe more can be done to stop youngsters smoking following a recent Euro MPs’ vote for tougher anti-tobacco laws.
MEPs voted to have graphic warnings on 65 per cent of packaging, ban flavoured cigarettes, a removal of packets of 10 and cigarettes which look like perfume or lipstick containers, and control advertising for electronic cigarettes.
But Wigan’s director of public health, Dr Kate Ardern, insists the European Commission should have gone further by introducing even stricter new measures.
She said: “Whilst these important decisions have been made, especially with flavoured cigarettes, as these attract youngsters, I am disappointed slim cigarettes and menthol are still available.
“Wigan was the first authority in the country to pass a motion to support standardised plain packaging and that is still our position.
“Children should not be subject to tobacco marketing and there are still some issues that need addressing.
Figures from Cancer Research UK show that 750 youngsters aged 10 to 14 in Wigan were lighting up at least once a week, and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) reveals that fewer than four in 10 people in the region are deterred by the current images.
The BHF is using the figures to compare with Australia, where packs are almost entirely covered by graphic warnings, and almost half of teenagers are put off by the health warnings.
As a result, Wigan Council’s public health team is imploring youngsters to take heed of the graphic images.
Wigan Council’s stop smoking team is taking preventative measures to reduce the number of teenage smokers. These include a number of local amateur sports clubs h adopting smoke-free touchlines.
The council also has a Smoke-free Families programme aimed at reducing the number of children subjected to second-hand smoke.