An important message from Cancer Research UK
TEENAGERS ATTRACTED BY ‘CUTE’ SLIM CIGARETTES AS CAMPAIGN CONTINUES FOR STANDARDISED PACKAGING
NEW FINDINGS RELEASED ALONGSIDE SHOCKING FILM
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 unique 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 ‘smelly and disgusting’ brown cigarettes, which were viewed as ‘disgusting’, ‘really really strong’ and ‘old fashioned’. In fact, some superslim brands contain more harmful tobacco products than regular cigarettes.
The findings of this research, which highlights how different styles and designs of cigarettes and tobacco packaging can be more attractive to young people, 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 online today as part of its ongoing campaign for standardised tobacco packaging to protect young people from tobacco marketing.
After legislation was left out of the Queen’s speech in May, Cancer Research UK has been campaigning to make sure 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.”
Professor Gerard Hastings, a Cancer Research UK funded social marketing expert based at the University of Stirling, and an author on the paper, said: “Our research confirms previous studies that both the pack and the product are powerful marketing tools in the hands of the tobacco industry which it is using to recruit a new generation of smokers. It’s time policy makers moved to standardise both.”
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 know because I started smoking as a teenager and found it extremely difficult to give up. It’s shocking how glamorous and sophisticated modern cigarette packets are – there are even some that look like lipsticks! 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.”
Mumsnet CEO and co-founder, Justine Roberts, said: 'Very few parenting issues are completely black and white, but nobody wants their child to start smoking. Standardised packs may not be a silver bullet, but Mumsnet users are clear that they'd be very happy to see them as part of a range of measures to discourage children from getting hooked.'
You can watch and share Cancer Research UK’s shocking new film here: http://bit.ly/HKG5Rc
For more information about Cancer Research UK’s campaign for standardised packaging, please visit cruk.org/standard-packs.
*Adolescent perceptions of cigarette appearance. European Journal of Public Health. Ford et al: The study by Cancer Research UK researchers at the University of Stirling asked 48 boys and girls from Glasgow about their views of eight cigarette brands differing in length, diameter, colour and decorative design. The eight cigarettes were: a longer length brown cigarette, a superking size with imitation cork tip, three narrow slims and superslims cigarettes with white tips and decorative elements, a standard king size cigarette with an imitation cork tip, a white tipped king size cigarette and a short unfiltered white cigarette.
About Cancer Research UK
- Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
- The charity’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
- Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
- Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years.
- Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
- Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.