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Fresh welcomes “momentus day for health” in the Lords

Fresh has welcomed a "momentus day for health" as the House of Lords voted for an end to glossy cigarette packs with slick logos, and moved a step closer to a ban on smoking in cars carrying children.


Peers voted in favour of a Government amendment in the Children and Families Bill to enable legislation for standardised plain packaging with larger health warnings on all tobacco and cigarettes.


The Lords also backed a Labour plan to ban smoking in cars carrying children.  Labour peers tabled an amendment to the Children and Families Bill detailing their proposal for England, which they said was about "protecting children". The amendment enables without compelling the government at a later date to make it a criminal offence for drivers to fail to prevent smoking in their vehicle when children are present. Surveys show around 85% of North East adults would support a ban on smoking in cars carrying children.


Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “This has been a momentus day for health in which the health interests of millions of children have won over the interests of tobacco profits.


“The UK is now almost certain to become one of the first in the world to see an end to slick, glossy tobacco packs designed to attract young smokers, while we have also moved one step closer to laws to stop tens of thousands of children being exposed to toxic smoke in the car.”


Standard packs

Standard packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products is intended to make starting to smoke less attractive to children and young people. Surveys in the North East show most smokers start as teenagers – the average age at about 15.  Evidence showed that young people found the standard packs without logos less tempting and more poisonous looking.


Packs would have no tobacco logos or branding apart from the name of the product in a simple typeface, and will be covered in written and graphic health warnings and advice on quitting.


Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “9000 children take up smoking and smoking remains our biggest killer with over 4000 avoidable deaths each year. The aim is to help turn off the tap of a whole new generation of smokers and standard packs are an important step. 


“Every council, dozens of North East MPs and tens of thousands of ordinary members of the North East public have put their support behind making this a reality. It’s about recognizing our teenagers’ health is more important than the huge profits of tobacco multinationals.



We are delighted with the outcome and warmly congratulate parliamentarians from all Parties who have supported standard packaging. This is an important outcome for everyone who doesn’t want their child or grandchild to smoke.”


The UK Government announced in July 2013 that it would not proceed with legislation on standardised packaging. But after a cross Party and crossbench alliance in the Lords tabled an amendment to the Children and Families Bill, the Government announced in November 2013 that it bring in its own amendment to the Bill.


The pediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler has been asked by the Government to conduct a review of the public health evidence on the policy, to report by March 2014.


Packs would have no tobacco logos or branding apart from the name of the product in a simple typeface, and will be covered in written and graphic health warnings and advice on quitting.



Fresh has called on North East MPs and the Government to now back calls from the Lords to restrict smoking in cars carrying children.


Over eight hundred children visit their doctor every day due to the serious effects of secondhand smoke exposure, according to research published by the Royal College of Physicians . In the North East, a regional breakdown reveals 13,000 youngsters need hospital or GP treatment every year from breathing in smoke.


Every day millions of children in the UK are exposed to secondhand smoke, which puts them at increased risk of lung disease, meningitis and cot death. Treatment, hospital and GP visits for secondhand smoke related illnesses cost the NHS more than £23.6 million each year.


 Ailsa Rutter director of Fresh said “The evidence is clear. Smoking around children is harmful, especially in homes and cars, so it’s vital they are protected from the dangers of second-hand smoke.


“Tens of thousands of children are made ill from breathing in smoke every year, despite national awareness campaigns warning adults about the harm of smoke.


“Too many people mistakenly believe opening a car window will protect their children from the toxic poisons but this is ineffective. Legislation protecting children from having to breathe secondhand smoke in cars would be incredibly popular, and we would support it.”


The smoke from the end of a cigarette is poison and breathing it in causes serious health problems for children and adults. Fresh warns that more than 80 per cent of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, and contains harmful cancer-causing toxins and poisons such as arsenic.


Research identified by the British Lung Foundation shows that a single cigarette smoked in a moving car with a window half open exposes a child in the centre of a backseat to around two-thirds as much second-hand smoke as in an average smoke-filled pub of yesteryear, with levels increasing when the car is static or with windows closed.


Laws on smoking in cars when children are present already exist in some US states, including California, as well as in parts of Canada and Australia


The regional breakdown for the North East from the Royal College of Physicians Passive Smoking and Children report by Fresh shows around 84,000 North East children are estimated to be exposed to second hand smoke in the home, leading to:


- 800 chest infections for under twos
- 4,900 middle ear infections for 0-16yr-olds
- 900 new cases of wheeze & asthma for 0-16 year olds
- 24 cases of bacterial meningitis
- 12,600 children needing to visit the GP
- 400 children needing to go to hospital