Children's Charter Targets Smoking

A "children's charter'' to highlight the goal of creating a tobacco-free generation in Scotland within two decades is being launched by health campaigners today.

The charity ASH Scotland said its document, the Charter for a Tobacco-free Generation, is aimed at organisations working directly or indirectly with young people and their families.

At its heart is an ambition for Scotland to achieve an adult smoking rate of 5% or less by 2034.

Organisations are being asked to sign up to the charter's six principles and to pledge to review their policy and practice to help protect children from the harms caused by smoking.

ASH Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said: "The Charter for a Tobacco-free Generation is a way of driving forward Scotland's compelling vision to free our children from the tobacco epidemic that has claimed so many lives and led to so much misery.

"It's important people realise tobacco use is primarily an addiction of childhood, with two-thirds of smokers saying they took up the habit when they were under age.

"The charter principles set out the rights of children in relation to tobacco for the first time, to be protected from cynical tobacco marketing, from exposure to toxic second-hand smoke and from getting hooked into a lethal addiction as children.''

The charter's six stated key principles are that:

:: Every baby should be born free from the harmful effects of tobacco;

:: Children have a particular need for a smoke-free environment;

:: All children should play, learn and socialise in places that are free from tobacco;

:: Every child has the right to effective education that equips them to make informed positive choices on tobacco and health;

:: All young people should be protected from commercial interests which profit from recruiting new smokers;

:: Any young person who smokes should be offered accessible support to help them to become tobacco-free.

Among those supporting the charter is veteran sports broadcaster Archie Macpherson, who was diagnosed last year with cancer in his ureter, believed to be caused by second-hand smoke exposure.

He had to have a healthy kidney removed along with the ureter to help him overcome his illness.

Mr Macpherson said: "As a teenager, I witnessed many of my friends succumbing to the commercial inducements to smoke cigarettes. I never did. Although one has never touched my lips I fell victim to the toxic effect of second-hand smoke, which required major surgery at great cost to the NHS.

"Being in smoke-filled press boxes and offices exposed me to passive smoking so I know first-hand how vital it is that we do all we can to ensure people of all ages are protected from this kind of risk in future.''

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