A GWENT MP has strengthened his calls for standardised cigarette packaging as figures reveal his constituency continues to record high levels of lung cancer.

The latest figures from Cancer Research UK have revealed that around 60 new cases of lung cancer are recorded in Blaenau Gwent every year, putting it well above the UK average.

Blaenau Gwent also has a much higher rate of smokers (27.5 per cent) compared to the rest of the country (22.6 per cent), and the rate of smoking related deaths are also higher, at 275 a year per 100,000 population against a Welsh average of 226).

Nick Smith is campaigning on the need to reduce the visual appeal of cigarette packaging, and said the latest figures prove the importance of the issue

“Smoking is an addiction of childhood, with more than 4.5m UK smokers starting before the age of 16," he said.

“We can argue that rational adults are not drawn in by glitzy packaging, but it is clear from the numbers that for many the decision to smoke is made far earlier in life."

He added that an advertising ban is a good first step, but pretending packaging is not also advertising ignores the money spent on making it appealing.

“The Blaenau Gwent figures are saddening. We already have high levels of ill-health, so the chronic and sometimes fatal health problems smoking can cause are even more troubling," he said.

“I want my homeland to be as healthy as possible for generations to come, and if a packaging ban meant one less child took up smoking, it would be a success.”