Public health minister claims ‘gorgeous’ cigarette packaging lures teenagers

Public health minister Anna Soubry has blamed ‘gorgeous’ cigarette packaging for her decision to take up the habit as a teenager.

Describing their branding as a ‘symbol of glamour’ Soubry’s intervention comes in the wake of the government’s decision to shelve plans to mandate plain packaging for all cigarettes in order to assess more evidence.

Speaking in the Commons Soubry recounted her own experiences at the age of 17 where she described the ‘power of the package’ as being a ‘powerfully important driver’ in drawing young people to addiction.

Soubry said: “I want to make it absolutely clear, like so many smokers I took up smoking before the age of 18. It’s one of these moments where you always most want to confess.

“It sounds very weak, I accept. But the power of the packet as a 17-year-old in Worksop, working in a toy shop, which in those days sold cigarettes.

“I have never forgotten the first time I bought a packet of cigarettes and I deliberately chose a packet of St Moritz because they were green and they were gorgeous and they were a symbol of, may I say, glamour.

“And I distinctly remember, it was the power of that package, the opening of the cellophane, the gold and the silver, that is so powerfully important to many people who take up smoking."

In response to the speech a government spokesperson said: “These are questions, understandably, with regard to plain packaging. The Government set out the basis on which it was going forward and the rationale for that... There’s been no change."

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