Teenagers attracted by ‘cute’ slim cigarettes

Teenagers are most attracted to slim and superslim cigarettes with white filter tips and decorative features – describing them as ‘cute, classy and feminine’ – according to a new Cancer Research UK study to be published in the European Journal of Public Health this autumn.

The 15 year olds rated slimmer brands as weaker and less harmful than ‘disgusting’ brown cigarettes. In fact, some superslim brands contain more harmful tobacco products than regular cigarettes.

The findings of this research are being issued alongside a new film, which reveals how tobacco companies can go as far as local laws allow to influence and recruit young people. Cancer Research UK is launching the hard-hitting film as part of its ongoing campaign for standardised tobacco packaging to protect young people from tobacco marketing. 

 Still from the film  

Still from the film

 Still from the film

 After legislation was left out of the Queen’s speech in May, Cancer Research UK has been campaigning to ensure standardised packaging isn’t left off the agenda for good. An amendment to The Children and Families Bill, which is being debated in the House of Lords this month, could allow Parliament one last chance this year to vote on legislation to protect children’s health with the introduction of standardised packaging. 

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “The evidence shows children are attracted to glitzy, slickly-designed cigarettes packs and every year more than 207,000 UK children between 11 and 15 start smoking. We are urging the government to introduce standardised packaging to discourage these children from starting this life-threatening habit and to prioritise children’s health over tobacco company profits.”

 Still from the film Still from the film Still from the film

Cancer Research UK’s campaign for standardised packaging has also had some high profile support, including from Lucy Briers, actress and daughter of Richard Briers. She said: “My father was a smoker for most of his life and his cigarette habit caused the emphysema that killed him – it’s heartbreaking to think that if he had given up sooner we might have had more time with him. But smoking is a very hard habit to break; it’s better never to have started.

“I started smoking as a teenager and found it extremely difficult to give up. It’s shocking how glamorous modern cigarette packets are. Like any teenage girl, easily-influenced by what looks ‘cool’, I would have loved these packs.

“By removing all branding and design from tobacco packaging and taking away the ‘cool’ factor, I am certain cigarettes would be less attractive to children and give them one less reason to take up smoking. I fully support this legislation, which will be crucial in protecting the health of impressionable young people.”

You can watch and share the new film here: 

For more information, visit cruk.org/standard-packs.

A selection of cigarette packsStandardised pack front

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