Dame Anne has backed Cancer Research UK’s campaign ‘The answer is plain’ supporting the plain packaging of tobacco products with the aim of reducing the number of underage smokers. In response to the government’s “Stoptober” campaign, Dame Anne emphasises that “although smokers should be encouraged to stop, the government needs to also tackle the root causes of why people start smoking.”
Dame Anne has discovered that approximately 2,550 children in Grampian are regular smokers. Furthermore, almost a quarter of Aberdonians smoke frequently. Dame Anne said: “These statistics are shocking. The number of children smoking is clearly far too high and should be addressed. Most smoking-related deaths in the city are preventable and reducing the number of smokers – especially underage ones – is critical to this.”
Research shows that plain, standardised packaging makes cigarettes less attractive to children. On average, eight in ten smokers start by the age of 19. Dame Anne said: “It’s crucial that the government works to de-glamorise smoking as much as possible and expose the true risks of the habit to children, which will significantly reduce the chances of them starting smoking later in life.”
Cancer UK described current packaging as “a seductive marketing tool that attracts young people in to a habit that kills half of all long term smokers.”
Dame Anne stated: “Underage smoking is a distinct problem in Aberdeen South and I am eager to investigate ways of preventing it. Plain packaging is a widely recommended solution and I am keen to see this introduced.”
“Whilst I encourage the government’s efforts to promote ‘Stoptober,’ it needs to dissuade people from smoking in the first place, which many say is caused by the attractive packaging.”
“Young people can be easily tempted by advertising and with the vast majority of smokers starting before the age of 19, stubbing out teenage smoking must be a government priority.”
Today Dame Anne Begg MP wrote to the Prime Minster, David Cameron MP, after receiving a number of colourful medals from S1 and S2 pupils at Kincorth Academy highlighting the issue of access to education for children across the world through the “Send my Friend to School” campaign.
Dame Anne is pleased to be able to display the work in her office and the vibrant medals will draw the attention of visitors to the problems experienced by children across the world in accessing education. The ‘Send my Friend to School’ campaign chose the theme of medals to tie in with the Olympics highlighting that whilst not all of us are world classed athletes, the race to ensure that all children can attend school by 2015 is one we can all take part in.
Therefore, Dame Anne has written to the Prime Minster to ask that he take action to ensure that all children have access to education by 2015. With 67 million children still denied access to education, pressure on world leaders needs to be maintained to ensure that this goal is met by 2015.
Dame Anne Begg MP encourages everyone in Aberdeen South to answer the question “What does representation mean to you in 2012?” for a chance to contribute to REPRESENT, a poem which will be created as part of the Arts in Parliament programme this summer.
REPRESENT is about you and your connection to Parliament. Your response could be about making your voice heard, or about getting others to listen. It might be about how you are represented now or how you would like that to be changed. Or it might be about your identity and how that affects how you are represented in 2012. Whatever it is you’d like to say, you can do it with lyrics, rhyme, prose, or even just a couple of sentences.
“I think REPRESENT offers an exciting opportunity to talk about representation and what it means to get your voice heard. I am delighted that the poem will be shown in the historic setting of Westminster Hall during the Arts in Parliament programme this summer, and I encourage everyone in my constituency to get involved,” said Dame Anne.
Using the responses from across the UK, award-winning poet and performer Inua Ellams will create a single poem which will be shown as a film online and in Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament between m 1 – 6 August 2012.
To participate, include your first name, age and city or town you live in, and submit your short contributions via: email to email@example.com, Twitter using the hashtag #represent2012 or YouTube. Submissions must be received by Monday 25 June 2012. For full rules and details visit: www.parliament.uk/artsinparliament
REPRESENT is a partnership project between Arts in Parliament, an innovative and unique programme which brings visual art, music, dance and poetry into the iconic setting of the Houses of Parliament in the Olympic year, and the UK’s leading spoken word organisation, Apples & Snakes.
Having previously contacted Aberdeen City Council to seek action to tackle the spate of vandalism at Tullos Primary School, Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, was pleased to receive correspondence from Aberdeen City Council confirming that they intend to improve security at the school.
After hearing of the disruption caused by vandalism and arson over the Christmas period, Dame Anne contacted Valerie Watts, Chief Executive at Aberdeen City Council to ask whether the Council would consider extending CCTV to the part of the building where the nursery is situated. The spot has provided an easy target for vandals as the only on-looking property has lain empty for some time and had been targeted on a number of occasions.
Dame Anne said: “The vandalism to the nursery unit was not only disruptive to those children who attend the nursery but also disrupted the education of those pupils whose classrooms had to be used to accommodate the nursery classes. I am, therefore, pleased that the Council have committed to extending the CCTV coverage and are also considering additional measures to improve the overall security of the building. I understand this spot had been targeted previously and the cost of repairing the damage could have been avoided by taking action earlier. I do hope there will be no more disruption to the pupils.”
Local Councillor Yvonne Allan had contacted the Head Teacher of Tullos Primary School direct to offer her help and was advised that they desperately required better security in each classroom. Following the news that the CCTV was to be extended she said: “I am delighted that finally something is to be done.”
Anne was delighted to field a wide range of questions from Primary 6 pupils at St Margaret’s School for Girls.As well as asking about the process of creating legislation, the pupils asked Anne for her views on issues such as the environment, agriculture and representation of women in Parliament.