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Dublin: 0 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
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‘Why do they make smokes anyway?’: Tallaght schoolchildren have their say on new cigarette packaging

The new packs – which include graphic images of health problems that could be caused by smoking – are expected to be brought in next year.

Updated 3.44pm

(Youtube: Irish Cancer Society)

ONE THIRD CLASS pupil at Tallaght’s Scoil Aonghusa reckons “they do fancy stuff just to get you to smoke, ” while another says the current designs of cigarette packets are “kind-of bribey — they bribe you to get you to buy them”.

However, given a look at a sample selection of the new ‘plain packs’, set to be brought in as part of Health Minister James Reilly’s anti-smoking drive, the pupils reactions are markedly different.

Faced with the new designs that include graphic images of health conditions caused by smoking, one boy says “It’s not good. I don’t like it”.  His classmate thinks “the eye one looks a bit freaky”.

Another pupil sums it all up (as nine-year-olds tend to) with two simple questions: “Why do people do it? Like, and why do they make smokes in the first place?”

The video was put together by the Irish Cancer Society to show the impact of branding on children. The Society says the clip “backs up what a body of research has shown — branded packs appeal to children as young as nine who are attracted by brightly-coloured packs and innovative design”.

In a statement today, Reilly said the children are questioning why it is people would begin to smoke at all.

“If we can put young people off smoking, even for a couple of years, the evidence suggests that they may not develop this killer addiction at all,” he said.

“This video is fascinating in that it shows clearly the degree to which the children are repelled by standardised packaging and more importantly express negative views about the smoking habit.”

imageThe new standardised cigarette packs [Image: ICS]

However, smoking lobby group Forest Éireann maintains the video proves nothing. According to spokesman John Mallon: ”A box of Benson & Hedges might look like a shiny bar of gold to a child but a mouth of rotting teeth on a box would appear repulsive to them”.

“It does not tell us about their future buying habits though when they have their own money nor does it even suggest a trend in their lifestyle choices.”

The new packs are expected to arrive in shops next year, and are part of a range of measures being introduced by the Health Minister in his strategy of ‘denormalising’ smoking.

The Irish Cancer Society is holding a Twitter chat on the issue of plain packaging this evening at 8pm.

First published 1.24pm

Read: Reilly working on ‘smoke free’ Ireland by 2025 >

Also: Plain pack cigarettes will ‘save lives’ and prevent child smokers >

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