ANTI-SMOKING campaigners today welcomed a move that bans cigarettes from being displayed in shops.
The National Tobacco Plan sets out a number of measures to help stub out the deadly addiction.
These include stopping the promotion of tobacco, including behind-the-counter displays, increasing cigarette prices, and fighting for laws banning the sale of tobacco through vending machines.
Fresh Smoke Free North East said the move will save lives, money and boost the health of thousands of children across Wearside.
Ailsa Rutter, Fresh director, said: “This is a real statement that lives are more important than the profits of a few powerful multinational companies and we welcome it.
“Smoking is an addiction that starts in childhood and costs every person, every family, every business, council, GP surgery and hospital.
“This plan will save lives if it is fully implemented and there is effective action taken at national, sub-national and local levels.
“I am really pleased to see that some of the recommendations in the plan are things that have already helped us drive down smoking in the North East.
“A vital part of this has been building up the highest awareness of some of the health issues around smoking in the country.
“We do hope though that the Government will reinstate effective media campaigns around smoking as soon as possible as it is a concern that there has been no national campaign for nearly a year now and experience elsewhere shows this has a direct effect on smoking rates.”
About 5,000 people a year across the region die from smoking.
For every death, a further 20 suffer from smoking-related illnesses.
Figures from Fresh reveal 92 per cent of smokers across the North East want more done to stop youngsters from picking up the habit.
Professor Peter Kelly, acting regional director of public health, said: “It is vital that we do all we can to address our number one cause of premature death and this plan provides us with a good foundation of new measures that we can use to help rid us of the appalling health burden from tobacco.
“It is also good to see that the plan recognises the excellent work that has been under way in the North East over the last six years through Fresh and all the many partners who have united around the making smoking history for our children campaign.”