Primary school children make anti-smoking packaging

Children holding up anti-smoking packaging Image copyright PA
Image caption Children at Earlsdon Primary School in Coventry drew their anti-smoking packaging with the assistance of TV medic Dr Ranj Singh

Primary school children in Coventry are at the centre of a nationwide anti-smoking campaign.

Pupils from Earlsdon Primary School have drawn their own anti-smoking packaging ahead of the country's plain packaging rollout in May 2017.

Public Health England (PHE) said it hopes the message "resonates" with the country's 7m smokers.

PHE said that 78,000 people in England die every year from smoking.

The government approved the use of plain packaging on cigarette cartons - which removes messages, colours and brand images - in May.

The children drew their own front-of-pack messages, with sentiments like, "don't be the smoker, be the stopper".

The drawings also feature illustrations of diseases that can be caused by smoking, like heart attacks and strokes.

Image copyright PA

The children's designs won't be used - instead, the actual packaging will feature graphic pictures and text health warnings.

National director for health and wellbeing Kevin Fenton said: "I hope the children's heartfelt pleas will resonate with smokers around the country to encourage them to take advantage of the free campaign tools and support available, and to make 2017 the year they quit for good."

Image copyright PA

England's chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: "Stopping smoking will have a dramatic positive impact on your health and the health of those around you, especially children, and is the single best health decision you can make this new year."

Campaign group Forest, which supports those who choose to smoke, said the use of children for an anti-smoking message was "emotional blackmail" and should not be "financed with taxpayers' money".

Director Simon Clark said: "Using children to make adults feel guilty about smoking is a new low for the public health industry."

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