'Save Our Kids From Smoking'

Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne wants cigarettes to have plain packaging as a way of discouraging children from smoking.

Mr Huhne is backing a Cancer Research UK campaign following evidence that young people are attracted by glossy packaging which puts at risk more than 4,000 Hampshire 10-14 year olds.

This is the estimated number of children who smoke at least one cigarette a week in Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth, according to Department of Education figures.

Mr Huhne met Eastleigh campaigner Lynne Denham, both pictured here, to highlight that one in two smokers die of lung cancer and to support the campaign for all branding to be removed from tobacco packaging.

Lynne is an ambassador for Cancer Research UK and was keen to share research which shows that striking logos and distinctive packet designs make cigarettes more appealing to children.

Chris Huhne MP said:

 "I want to do what I can to support effective measures to beat cancer and I was shocked to hear of the impact that tobacco marketing has on children. Lung cancer is one of the biggest preventable causes of death in the country.

"I wholeheartedly support The answer is plain campaign and I'll be taking up this vitally important issue with the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley MP."

Cancer Research UK's call to protect children from tobacco marketing comes as the government consults on whether all tobacco should be sold in packs of uniform size, shape and design, otherwise known as 'plain packs.'

Lynne said:

 "We must protect our children from the dangers of tobacco. I don't want children being subjected to clever marketing techniques from an industry that has to recruit 100,000 new smokers each year to replace those who die from smoking.

"I lost my mother due to lung cancer and became involved with Cancer Research UK after she died. I'm delighted that Chris Huhne MP is backing The answer is plain campaign and I urge my fellow constituents in Eastleigh to show their support by signing the campaign petition.

"So many people's lives are touched by cancer. We can all do our bit to help stop children from taking up this deadly addiction."

Smoking is the most important preventable cause of cancer and is responsible for one in four deaths from the disease in the UK.

Sarah Woolnough, Director of Policy at Cancer Research UK said:

"Around 157,000 11-15 year olds start smoking every year so we must do more to make cigarettes less appealing to children.

"Girls are attracted to brands which have long, slim cigarettes with sophisticated names and glamorous packaging, while boys tend to respond to designs with a rugged, macho image. In an age when any parent tries to teach their children about the dangers of this deadly addiction, cigarette packs are sending a very different message.

"Over 80% of adults in the UK believe that children shouldn't be exposed to tobacco marketing* so we're urging MPs and their constituents to help us end the packet racket and give millions of children one less reason to start smoking."

People in Hampshire are being urged to sign Cancer Research UK's campaign petition at www.theanswerisplain.org before the Government closes its consultation on plain cigarette packaging on the 10th July.