We took to the road through July as part of the plain packs campaign. We took our giant plain packs to schools in Swansea, Prestatyn and Caerphilly to talk to teenagers about the dangers of smoking and how the tobacco industry specifically targets its products at young people through cigarette packaging.
We were impressed by young people’s questions about tobacco marketing and their views on how smoking affects them and their friends and families. They were shocked by some of the shiny and “cool” looking cigarette packs and said they should not be sold in glamorous packaging that might tempt children to try smoking. They said some of the coloured packaging looked like they contained chewing gum, perfume, posh tissues and even lego.
We encouraged youngsters to tell their friends about the campaign to ban tobacco marketing on Facebook and in school. A few even talked to their local newspaper during the roadshow!
During the roadshow we generated support from local politicians in the areas we visited, including Chris Ruane MP for Clwyd West who is chair of the APPG on Heart Disease in Westminster; Martin Caton MP for Gower who also signed an Early Day Motion on plain packaging, and Gwyn Price AM for Caerphilly.
We took our findings from young people to the cross-party group on Children in the Assembly where we received support from other Assembly Members as well as Welsh organisations Children in Wales and Voices from Care.
Our trip to Penyrheol Comprehensive received some good press in the Evening Post: Campaign's plain facts about tobacco dangers and Wales’s Children’s Commissioner also lent his support to the campaign.
Children’s Commissioner for Wales Keith Towler said:
"Smoking can be damaging for people of any age, but it is particularly harmful for children and young people. I welcome Ash Wales’ campaign to introduce plain packaging for all cigarettes, and am supportive of any steps that will help to discourage children and young people from smoking and to protect their health. It is vital that Welsh Government continues to invest in measures that will help reduce the number of young smokers."
What young people from across Wales said...
- “The packs will show what it actually does, they will say the truth.” Lydia, aged 14, Prestatyn High School, Prestatyn
- “It looks more medical. If you had a choice between that and the others you wouldn’t choose it.” Alana, aged 14, Prestatyn High School, Prestatyn
- “I’ve never smoked and now I never will.” Morgan, aged 13, Penyrheol Comprehensive School, Gorseinon, Swansea
- “They’ll think the plain packs are horrible and won’t want to end up like it.” Callum, aged 11, Pontllanfraith Comprehensive School, Blackwood
- “The warning is only on the back of the coloured ones and you don’t have to read it.” Kirstie, aged 11, Pontllanfraith Comprehensive School, Blackwood