Children enticed by smoke packets
A cigarette packet can be just as appealing to a child as a bag of lollies, a video released by the Heart Foundation reveals.
In the 60-second clip Newton Central School youngsters, aged between 5 and 10, speak openly about why the colours and images on the packets appeal to them.
The Heart Foundation is working in partnership with other concerned agencies, including the Cancer Society, to bring to light the impact of cigarette packet branding on young people.
The foundation hopes the video will bring the message home.
One child says the packet reminds her of lollies, while another says “it looks like you could just slide it out and eat it”.
Newton Central School principal Hoana Pearson was shocked.
‘‘I hadn’t realised children see them like that,’’ she says.
‘‘It very clearly shows that when you look through children’s eyes things look very different.’’
Tobacco packaging acts as a smokescreen for what is potentially a deadly product, she says.
‘‘The simple truth is that the packets appear colourful, bright and appealing, when they should be seen as just a box that has stuff in it that’s dangerous.’’
The video supports the foundation’s campaign to stub out branded cigarette packaging.
It is also a key step towards the goal of New Zealand becoming smoke-free by 2025, they say.
Heart health advocate Naadira Desai says the clip may shock parents.
‘‘Although it might be hard to watch, we’re confident it will galvanise community support for plain packs for tobacco.”
Un-branding tobacco products won’t stop everyone from smoking, she says.
‘‘But removing the last key marketing tool that tobacco companies have will give our kids and grandkids one less reason to start.”
School mum Hayley Whatuira, whose sons feature in the clip, would like to see an end branded packaging.
“A child’s not going to be attracted to plain packets. It will definitely have an impact on future generations – it just won’t be on their radar.”
British American Tobacco has launched a nationwide advertising campaign to persuade the Government not to introduce plain cigarette packaging.
As part of the campaign it’s launched agreedisagree.co.nz, under a banner "we agree that tobacco is harmful, we disagree that plain packaging will work".
Public feedback is currently being sought by the Government on the plain packaging issue.
Feedback closes on October 5.
Shocking: Newton Central School youngsters speak about why cigarette packets appeal to them in a Heart Foundation video clip. From left: Arabella Urwin, 8, Frances Bingham, 10, Poppy Lush, 9, and Phoebe Lush, 9.
Go to aucklandcityharbournews. co.nz to see the foundation’s video on plain packaging.