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HORROR PICTURES BID TO STUB OUT SMOKING; Tumours and rotten teeth on cig packs.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE By BOB ROBERTS Deputy Political Editor

SHOCK pictures of rotten teeth, blackened lungs and cancer tumours may soon be put on cigarette packets to get smokers to quit.

Tobacco firms could be forced to use the images despite similar plans being shelved last year amid "nanny state" claims.

It comes as ministers are today expected to approve a near-total ban on smoking in public buildings.

Only pubs, clubs and restaurants would be exempt and would have smoking rooms.

A Department of Health source hailed the bid to brand packets as "the next step towards our goal of eliminating cigarette smoking.

"In 50 years' time we want the idea of lighting up to be as ludicrous as spitting into a spittoon is now."

Proposals will be published in December. Health minister Caroline Flint said yesterday: "We will hold a consultation on mandatory picture warnings on tobacco products.

"We are aiming to create a climate where non-smoking is the norm, so there is less incentive for young people to take up the habit."

Pictures of a damaged heart, a drooping cigarette to show the link to impotence and an empty pram to highlight the risks to fertility may be considered.

Canada has used such images since 2000 and has seen the habit plummet. The EU wants to follow suit but will let member states decide.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt expects ministers to back plans today to forbid smoking in most public places.

Establishments that escape the curb would have sealed sections with self-closing doors and high-quality ventilation. She is said to want smoking rooms to be "as unpleasant as possible" and hopes to bring a bill to the Commons on Wednesday.

A Department of Health source said: "In 30 years' time we'll see the difference in cancer rates."

A ban on lighting up in all enclosed public spaces starts in Scotland next March. Northern Ireland agreed a similar move after it proved a success in the Republic.

And a pounds 4million TV drive to help smokers give up the habit was launched yesterday. The British Heart Foundation advert shows a bulge - symbolising unseen damage from tobacco - creeping up the arm, chest and neck of three smokers as Frank Sinatra's I've Got You Under my Skin plays.

It ends with the warning that every 35 minutes a blood clot gives a UK smoker a fatal attack.

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PLANS: Flint, left, and how packets may look
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 24, 2005
Words:406
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