Thursday, 9 August 2012

Plain Packaging - The Final Days of the Campaign

Happy Thursday everyone!

Tomorrow is the FINAL day of the campaign I have been helping with since January. Seven and a half months worth of hard work have gone into this project, not just from me, but from everyone involved. We campaigned, we’ve collected signatures, we’ve lobbied parliament, we’ve written letters, we’ve spoken to thousands of people and we’ve researched information.

The important thing to remember about this campaign is that a lot of the campaigning has been done by volunteers like me. We are members of the public who genuinely believe in the work of Cancer Research UK. We are people who do this work in our spare time for no financial gains whatsoever. You have to really believe in something to be willing to dedicate hours and hours of your spare time to a cause, especially when you have a busy career, a family to take care of and an everyday life to lead. That dedication is a powerful tool. It means the work we do is genuinely done because we believe in what we are doing. We are people who have been affected by cancer and want to help prevent our experiences happening to others.

The other thing to remember is that the tobacco companies have spent a hell of a lot of money on opposing this campaign. Why would they do that if they were not worried that plain packaging would be a threat to their profits? Two million pounds was spent by JTI alone. Tobacco companies are not allowed to advertise their products anymore. Gone are the days where a Benson and Hedges advert would loom down on you from one of those massive billboards whilst you’re stuck in traffic. They have to rely on other means of enticing smokers. Packets are one of them. Cigarette packets have become increasingly glitzy in the past few years. Our campaign “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” has also proven tricky for tobacco companies because now cigarettes are hidden away in larger retailers.

Thousands and thousands of smokers die every year. The tobacco companies need to replace these smokers with new ones to keep making a profit. This means they need to attract young people into smoking. Packaging helps with that. It is important to note that Imperial Tobacco refuse to agree to the SCIENTIFCALLY PROVEN link between smoking tobacco and lung cancer. This to me proves that they do not care about their customers. It shows they are more interested in their profits then they are the health of the people buying them. This also shows that they can be ecomomic with the truth, making their evidence untrustworthy in my opinion.

Smoking is a lifestyle choice. One that I try to understand and respect. If you know of the dangers and choose to carry on smoking then that is entirely your prerogative and I wish you well. I sincerely hope you are in the very small minority that’s doe not get ill. But the fact remains that smoking is a dangerous habit and children should be encouraged to not take up smoking at all in the first place. The tobacco industry refers to children and young people as “pre smokers”, a fact I find rather disgusting. Most smokers I know would hate for their children to smoke.

If you believe plain packaging won’t put young people off smoking then think of your time at school. Imagine your mum put an ASDA own brand can of cola into your lunchbox instead of a Coca-Cola can, would you not have been slightly embarrassed by it? It’s the same logic with cigarettes – some are cooler then others. We all know how much image means when you are young. Smoking a certain brand of cigarettes will mean something. Taking the branding away will take that image away. No one will look cooler then anyone else if everyone has the same packet.

A comment I hear frequently is “if you’re doing this to tobacco, why not to alcohol?”. I have my own opinion on this. Certain types of Alcohol, in moderation, can have some health benefits whereas there are NO benefits to smoking. Absolutely none. It makes your hair, skin and clothes smell. It ages your skin. It discolours your teeth and nails. It damages your insides. It rots your teeth. It leads to a whole host of life threatening illnesses. Not to mention the damage it will do to your bank account.

Another argument of the tobacco companies is that it will lead to a “nanny state” well to paraphrase my fellow ambassador David Collins – if being part of a nanny state means I will help save peoples lives then I’m all for it. I do believe people should live their lives as they want (unless it is an illegal lifestyle that is) but I do think tobacco companies manipulate people into a certain way of thinking and I believe this should be stopped. That isn’t being a nanny – that is looking out for people. Cancer is a horrible illness and people should be encouraged to be aware of the lifestyle choices that can increase their risk of a diagnosis.

I think I have bored people silly with information about this campaign so I will end this post here. Please do have a think about plain packaging and please do sign the petition at the side of the page if you do want to help us persuade the government to introduce it. It WILL be beneficial to public health and it WILL save thousands of young people from taking up a habit that could end up killing them.

The Answer is Plain.

Thank you

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