These latest figures* show the public supports the health community in urging the government to move forward with regulations to protect children from tobacco marketing.
The 2009 Health Act was passed by parliament which set clear deadlines to remove cigarette vending machines in 2011 and to put tobacco displays out of sight in all shops by the end of 2013. But these measures will not be enacted unless the government implements the regulations that are already in place.
Lack of public support has been put forward as an argument against rolling out these regulations. This new survey of more than 1100 people highlights the consistently high level of support from the public for protecting children from tobacco marketing.
An earlier survey in June 2009 found 70 per cent of adults in the UK backed putting tobacco out of sight in shops and 76 per cent supported abolishing cigarette vending machines.
Tobacco has a huge impact on health. Smoking is the single biggest cause of cancer in the world, and accounts for more than one in five UK cancer deaths. In the UK smoking kills five times more people than road accidents, overdoses, murder, suicide and HIV combined.
Smoking causes nine in ten cases of lung cancer. Smoking also increases the risk of over a dozen other cancers including cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), pharynx (upper throat), nose and sinuses, oesophagus (food pipe), liver, pancreas, stomach, kidney, bladder, cervix and bowel, as well as one type of ovarian cancer and some types of leukaemia.
Protecting young people from tobacco and stopping the next generation from smoking are key aims in the health community. Every year around 340,000 under-16s try cigarettes for the first time. Research has shown that shop displays play a role in enticing young people to try smoking.
The odds of young people saying they intended to smoke may increase by 35 per cent with every brand that they can name from memorising what they see advertised at point of sale displays.
Jean King, Cancer Research UK’s director of tobacco control, said: “The public is clearly supportive of putting tobacco out of sight. The evidence is compelling and the legislation is in place. This legislation will save lives if it is enacted. Not proceeding with regulations to allow England, Wales and Northern Ireland to put tobacco out of sight is a step backwards.
“It sends a message that tobacco companies’ profits are more important than the health of our children. Ignoring this opportunity commits more lives to be blighted from an addiction that will kill half of all long term users. We urge the government to show its commitment to health.”
For more information contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300 or the out of hours’ duty press officer on 07050 264 059.
• The YouGov survey commissioned by Cancer Research UK interviewed 1,106 adults in Britain using an online survey between 22nd and 23rd July 2010.
• It found that 73 per cent of British adults over 18 supported putting tobacco products out of sight of shops to protect children.
• It also found that 77 per cent of adults supported getting rid of cigarette vending machines completely in the UK to protect children.