"In Devon there are estimated to be 3,685 children aged 11-15 that smoke."
AN organisation which was set up to help people quit smoking and protect young people is calling for all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging.
It comes after Australia became the first country to introduce the move and Smokefree South West is leading a wide range of partners on the Plain Packs Protect campaign
Supported by Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation among others, the campaign has received more than 200,000 expressions of support.
It is hoped that by removing visual designs and logos from tobacco products in the UK, tobacco products will be less attractive, particularly to children; allow health warnings to stand-out better reduce the ability of the packaging to mislead consumers about the harms of smoking. In Devon there are estimated to be 3,685 children aged 11-15 that smoke.
Mel Stride MP for Central Devon said: "I totally support the plain packaging campaign particularly as plain packaging is likely to play a strong part in reducing the number of children who try smoking. The majority of smokers start in their early years and this approach should have excellent long-term health benefits for many thousands of people."
Fiona Andrews, director of Smokefree South West said: "The Plain Packs Protect campaign has really brought this issue to the fore in the UK and we're delighted that so many people across the country are supporting the drive to change how tobacco companies promote their products.
"The bold step that Australia has taken in toning down the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco packaging acts as a model we hope to see the UK embrace and take the lead in the Northern Hemisphere. Surely actively promoting products that kill one in two long term smokers is outdated and should be challenged? We believe from the evidence that introducing standard plain packs could dramatically reduce the recruitment of yet another generation of our young people across the South West taking up a costly and damaging habit."
The legislation change in Australia has angered tobacco firms who are worried that it may set a global precedent and by infringing on trademark rights as all images and logos are wiped off the packets. Many are preparing legal action.
Under the law, cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars have to be sold in olive green packs free from branding, but carrying graphic health warnings.