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Fresh welcomes Cancer Research UK report on children's attraction to designed cigarette packs

Fresh has today welcomed a new report from Cancer Research UK which reveals how glossy, colourful cigarette brands help to lure children into a lifetime of smoking.

People in the North East are being urged to back a hard-hitting campaign, launched by Cancer Research UK today (Thursday), aimed at discouraging youngsters from starting to smoke.

The charity is encouraging everyone across the region to sign a petition in support of ‘The Answer is Plain’ campaign which calls for all branding to be removed from tobacco packaging.

The campaign launch is accompanied by a new report called The Packaging of Tobacco Products and a powerful short film that illustrates children’s attraction to the slickly designed cigarette packs.

The report reveals how young people and women are identified as target groups at which tobacco marketing is aimed. And this is reflected in scenes from the film which shows six to 11 year old school children innocently discussing what attracts them to the brightly coloured and attractively designed cigarette packs*.

The children’s reactions to the packs include: “It makes you feel like you’re in a wonderland of happiness”, “The pictures actually look quite nice. Ice cubes and mint.”, “It reminds me of a Ferrari”, “Is that the Royal Sign?” and “Yeah. Pink, Pink, Pink”.

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, described the research evidence as "compelling" how cigarette packaging is attractive to young people in areas like the North East, and added that a previous North East survey found that 43% of current smokers started between the ages of 10 and 14.

"Smoking is an addiction that starts in childhood - long before it becomes an adult choice. Brands are a vital ingredient in making trying smoking seem all more attractive in the first place.

"After that, addiction and feeding a craving takes over and that child's chances of living a long and healthy life are reduced unless they quit. We are seeing more and more cigarette packs on our shop shelves packaged to appeal to young people.

"This is why we need to stop the gift wrapping of lethal products that end up killing half of all long term smokers with the initial promise of "come on in, the water's lovely."

Paul Wadsworth, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the North East, said: “This footage provides us with a chilling insight into how powerful branding and marketing can be. Children are drawn to the colourful and slick designs without having a full understanding of how deadly the product is inside the pack.

“That’s why we’re asking people across the region to help us end the packet racket. Our research shows the value attached to packaging by the tobacco industry. Parents will know first-hand that children are affected by marketing and branding. When that marketing is attracting children to cigarettes, we need to give young people in the North East one less reason to start smoking.”

Cancer Research UK’s report reviews tobacco industry documents from over the last half century as the future of tobacco packaging is being considered in a UK-wide government consultation.

Several internal tobacco industry documents** describe how packaging has been developed to appeal to new smokers, notably teenagers, through its size, colour and design.

Professor Robert West, Cancer Research UK’s Director of Tobacco Research at University College London, said: “The research evidence is compelling that cigarette packaging is attractive to young people. Once the young person tries smoking, nicotine has a chance to do its work in turning him or her into an addict. Only a quarter of those who smoke for a year succeed in stopping before it starts to take years off their lives***.

“Of course we can’t be sure how big an effect preventing tobacco companies from using packaging to attract smokers will have, but smoking is so dangerous that even a very small effect would save hundreds if not thousands of lives each year. And when the tobacco companies complain about freedom to promote their ‘legal’ products, let’s remember that if those deadly and addictive products were to be invented today there is no country in the world that would permit them to be sold at all.”

The report also shows that some brands of cigarettes are packaged to appeal specifically to women and others to men. Packs developed to target women are often designed to be long and slender, with pale or pastel colours indicating femininity, style, sophistication and attractiveness. Philip Morris’s research for the female Virginia Slims brand shows feminine packaging is acknowledged by women to look different from a traditional pack, and easy to carry in a purse****.

Eight focus groups of around 50 15-year-olds, featured in the new report, showed clear differences between boys and girls when asked to pick their favourite packs. Girls liked the female oriented Silk Cut and Vogue Superslims which suggests femininity and pleasure, such as perfume, make-up and chocolate.

The boys preferred the Marlboro Bright Leaf, Lambert & Butler and B&H slide packs which suggested maturity, popularity and confidence.

People in the North East can sign Cancer Research UK’s ‘The Answer is Plain’ petition at

To watch the powerful film of children discussing cigarette branding visit: