CITY leaders today backed calls for plain cigarette packets.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson spoke out ahead of World No Tobacco Day on Friday.
A new poll shows 63 per cent of adults surveyed in the North East support tobacco being sold in standardised plain packaging, with only 12 per cent opposing the idea.
Last year, every local authority signed a petition in support of standardised packs, while doctors and MPs expressed anger at packs with logos resembling perfume and Lego boxes.
Tobacco companies deny their marketing attracts children.
However, Councillor Watson said: “Cigarette packets are particularly aimed at the younger end of the legitimate market, and are therefore designed to be attractive and alluring to children in our community.
“I believe it’s proven that people who smoke die earlier than they would have otherwise.
“And the younger people start, the earlier they are likely to suffer these serious health consequences.
“Therefore, I believe that the cigarette packets being produced entice our children to start smoking and in my opinion, because of this, we are contributing to our children’s early death. I would certainly support the call for standardised packaging for all cigarettes.”
North East health campaign group Fresh is urging Ministers to commit to plain packaging.
Director Ailsa Rutter said: “Cigarette packs are one of the last remaining forms of promotion and advertising. Why else do tobacco companies make the packs so appealing, aiming them clearly as fashion accessories at young people?”
She said: “We’re urging ministers now to commit to removing these enticing brands and protect our children.”