Janine’s packaging campaign

Pictured with Joanne are left to right: Declan, husband Shaun and Ryan
Pictured with Joanne are left to right: Declan, husband Shaun and Ryan

A WIGAN mum is backing a national campaign aimed at discouraging children from taking up the deadly weed in the first place.

Janine Fletcher, 31, an ex-smoker of Marus Bridge, is urging people to sign a petition to support Cancer Research UK’s The Answer is Plain campaign, which calls for all branding to be removed from tobacco packaging.

The Government recently opened a consultation on whether to put all tobacco in plain packs, with large health warnings front and back.

Like many of her peers, Janine became hooked on tobacco when she was just 14. By the time she left school, she was on 20 cigarettes a day and up to 40 a day at weekends. But when she fell pregnant at 25, Janine was determined to give up smoking.

With thanks from the NHS Smoking Cessation team, she was able to cut down to between five and 10 cigarettes per day and soon gave up altogether.

Lending support, 36-year-old husband Shaun also quit at the same time.

And the mum-of-two, has even more reason to discourage youngsters from taking up smoking.

Her father-in-law, Ronnie Fletcher, who first lit up when he was 12, died from lung cancer in January 2010, aged 63.

Janine, who is now looking forward to starting a degree at Edge Hill University and will be training to become a paramedic, said: “I just wish I had never, ever started smoking. We are fairly sure Ronnie’s lung cancer was as a result of him being such a heavy smoker. It is a horrible disease. I fully support any measure that makes cigarettes less attractive to children. That’s why I’m urging everyone in the North West to sign Cancer Research UK’s petition and help stub out tobacco marketing to young people.”

Her call to introduce plain packs comes as new data released by the charity today shows that almost three quarters of people in the region said that the stylish, colourful branding and distinctive packet designs make tobacco products more appealing to children.

Research by the charity also shows that teenage boys and girls find different brands and packs appealing.

Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK’s spokesman for the North West, said: “Many parents know their children are very attached to certain brands and cleverly designed packaging plays a significant role in maintaining that attraction.

“This is about us as a society saying that it is wrong for tobacco – a product that kills half all its long term users – to be marketed to children as though it were a bag of sweets.”

Cancer Research UK has released a shocking short film, illustrating the powerful response tobacco packaging elicits from children.

To sign Cancer Research UK’s The Answer is Plain petition visit www.theanswerisplain.org.