December 29, 2011
Children and young people hoodwinked by cigarette
Children and young people are being
hoodwinked by glitzy cigarette packaging with more than a quarter
of young smokers making health assumptions based on branding.
Just over 25 per cent of
16-25 year-old regular smokers surveyed for us believed one branded
cigarette pack was less harmful than another
on the packet design alone. Yet the reality is that all cigarettes
contain harmful toxins, tar, and carbon monoxide.
This is one of the findings of our report
published today ahead of a Government consultation on whether the
UK should adopt ‘plain packaging’
for tobacco products - see our picture below.
report, which includes survey responses from more than
2,700 16-25 year-old smokers and non-smokers, reveals
three quarters think selling cigarettes in ‘plain packs’ - with no
colourful branding or logos, and larger health warnings - would
make it easier for people to smoke less or
One in six (16%) said they’d consider
the pack design when deciding which
cigarettes to buy while one in eight (12%) said they’d choose a
brand because it was considered ‘cool’.
The overwhelming majority (87%) thought plain
packs were less attractive than branded
packs, and shows how plain packaging could make a
significant difference in deterring young smokers.
Our Director of Policy and Communications, Betty McBride, said: “As informed adults we know
that smoking is a deadly
addiction that kills half of all smokers. But young people
are not always fully aware of the risks, and the power of branding
holds more sway.
“Tobacco advertising is
rightly banned in the UK. Yet current glitzy packaging clearly
still advertises tobacco on the cigarette box. It’s an absurd
loophole the tobacco industry takes full advantage of to lure in
new young smokers. We must close if we really want to
protect younger generations from taking up this
A total of 69 per cent of young people
surveyed agreed that cigarette packaging was a form of
Around 200,000 children and young
people in England start smoking each year, and more than
two thirds of the UK’s existing 10 million smokers started before
they turned 18.
The Government is due to launch a
public consultation by spring
2012 on whether the UK should adopt plain packaging for
Glitzy packaging clearly still advertises tobacco on the cigarette box
are sending copies of our report to all MPs inside
Australian-style plain cigarette packets in the New Year along with
a link to the short vodcast, which shows young
to different types of packaging.
In November the Australian
government agreed cigarettes need to be sold in
standardised plain packs of the same colour without any logos or
branding imagery. They will also include large picture health
warnings on the front and back of pack and will be mandatory from
We are asking the UK Government to
introduce a tobacco plain packaging bill into Parliament,
and for ministers to seek amendments to the EU Tobacco Products
Directive, which would enable large front-of-pack picture health