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Lancaster student calls for MPs to change cigarette packaging to protect children

A local student has been invited to talk about the reasons why cigarettes should be sold in plain packs at a meeting being held in Parliament on Wednesday 18 January.

21 year old Adan Loughlin, who is studying drama at the University of Cumbria, and based at the Lancaster site, has been involved in work to protect children and young people from tobacco harm for several years with the Smoke & Mirrors project.  He will be urging the MPs to listen to the evidence that branding is a factor in young people starting to smoke, and that plain packs will be a good move to reduce youth smoking.

Adan, who is originally from Halton, Merseyside said: “I’m really pleased to have been asked to speak to MPs about the benefits of plain packaging at this event. It’s a great opportunity to engage with decision makers about how removing branding from cigarettes will help to discourage young people from smoking.”

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meeting is being hosted by leading charity the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), and will be attended by MPs from the North West.  BHF recently launched a report and Vodcast in which Adan presented and interviewed young people on the issue of plain packaging.

The event comes in advance of a planned Government consultation on the introduction of plain cigarettes packs, which will become policy in Australia later in 2012.  There is now a strong body of evidence that plain packs are less attractive to children, make health warnings stand out more and reduce the ability of packaging to mislead consumers about the harms of smoking. 

A recent YouGov survey found that 80% would support this measure if plain packs were found to be less attractive to children and young people than branded packs.   Three quarters of respondents said they would support plain packaging if it made health warnings more effective.

Adan first became involved with tackling tobacco in 2010 after hearing about Smoke & Mirrors through his local youth club and was keen to be involved in the project, which highlights the negative practices of the tobacco industry and encourages young people to look at tobacco harm in a completely new way. 

His passion for pushing the tobacco control agenda to the forefront of people’s mind has seen him engage with shareholders at British American Tobacco AGM’s (BAT), as well as speak at the ASH Wales conference and the European Conference on Tobacco or Health in Amsterdam in 2010.

Adan’s interest in youth related issues first began at the age of 15 when he became involved with UK Youth Parliament, which involved giving young people in Halton a voice and looking at ways to improve the lives of young people.

He later became a member of the youth cabinet – an elected body of 13-19 year olds who represent the views of young people and aim to change things for the better for young people by raising issues with decision makers.

Andrea Crossfield, Director of Tobacco Free Futures said: “Putting tobacco products in plain packaging is essential because once tobacco is out of sight in shops tobacco packs will be the last remaining promotional tool for the tobacco industry. There is good evidence that plain, standardised packs are less attractive, particularly to young people, make health warnings stand out more and reduce the ability of packaging to mislead consumers about the harms of smoking.”

 “We hope that MPs will support the case for plain cigarette packs which we believe will help prevent young people from starting to smoke and make smoking history for children.”


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