‘Protect Sunderland children from tobacco ads’ – Queen’s Speech demands from campaigners

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AN anti-smoking group is calling for the Government to protect Wearside children from tobacco marketing, in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech.

Last year, more than 13,500 people and 129 organisations in the North East came out in support of standardised packs during the Department of Health consultation.

Despite reductions in smoking, the region still has higher than average rates of young people taking up the addiction.

Bosses at Fresh are campaigning for the Government to back proposals to introduce plain packaging – an initiative already in place in Australia.

However, reports have suggested Prime Minister David Cameron, has ordered ministers to pull the idea from the Queen’s Speech, which contains the Government’s legislative programme for the year ahead.

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh – who hopes the issue will still be addressed tomorrow – said: “We hope very much the Government will not cave in to tobacco industry lobbying and will instead put our children first.

“Smoking is still our biggest killer, and starting as a child raises the risks of diseases like lung cancer in later life.

“Doctors and MPs from our region have spoken out in horror at how young women are being targeted with glamorous ‘slim’ packs, at a time when we are predicted to see a threefold increase in the number of women suffering from lung cancer in the UK by 2040.”