69% of 16-24 year olds find cigarette packaging a form of advertising

A report published by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) ahead of a Government consultation on whether the UK should adopt ‘plain packaging’ for tobacco products has found that 69% of 16-24 year olds believe that cigarette packaging is a form of advertising.

It was also found that 87% of smokers in this age range find plain packaging less attractive than branded packaging, which the BHF believes shows how plain packaging could help deter young smokers.

One in six said that they would consider the pack design when deciding which cigarettes to buy, while one in eight said they would buy a brand that was considered ‘cool’.

Just over a quarter of regular smokers in the age group said that they believed one branded cigarette pack was less harmful than another based on the packet design alone.

Betty McBride, director of policy and communications, 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 fatal habit.”

The report, which included survey responses from more than 2,700 16-25 year-old smokers and non-smokers, found that 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 quit.

The Government is due to launch a public consultation by spring 2012 on whether the UK should adopt plain packaging for tobacco products.

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