Plain packaging campaigners take to city's streets

"It's about children seeing these bright packages."

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 29/08/2012
tdn cig stand
ANDY JACKSON
Heart health Advocate Elaine Jamieson has been out on the streets collecting signatures for plain packaging cigarettes.

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The campaign to stub out branding of cigarette packs has kicked off in New Plymouth.

Members and volunteers for the Heart Foundation were on the city streets yesterday collecting signatures for a petition supporting plain packaging of cigarette packs.

The Government is considering introducing the plain packaging regime - recently adopted by Australia - following a public consultation process.

The plan has angered the tobacco industry, which says it will fight the plan on the grounds it could breach international trade laws and infringe on businesses rights.

Heart health advocate Elaine Jamieson said her group's main focus was stopping children from starting smoking by removing the attractive packaging.

"It's about children seeing these bright packages. They're like lollies. At the moment they're mini-billboards; we want to take away that cool factor."

She said the majority of people who responded yesterday were in support of the petition, and they had attracted 40 signatures shortly after heading out.

"An incredible range of people have come along and wanted to sign straight away."

Ms Jamieson said people wanted to sign because they saw the benefit in steering children away from cigarettes.

"One lady said she had a heart attack from smoking but she didn't care. Then I asked her if she wanted her grandchild to start smoking and she said no."

She said often smokers were advocates of the campaign because they knew they were addicted but did not want other people to start.

She said the campaign was important in demonstrating to the Government that people in the communities were concerned about the issue.

"People are losing family members as a result of smoking. This gives the people on the street a voice. It's pretty powerful."

The Heart Foundation petition will be sent to the Government to consider as part of the consultation process over the plain packaging proposals.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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