19/09/2013 08 06 31Back to Ireland Home

Teenagers would be put off trying smoking for the first time if tobacco was sold in plain packets, health campaigners have said.

Research involving 15 and 16 year olds found branded packets encourage young people to take up the habit, while smokers would try and quit if all packets were the same.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly said it is unacceptable for a product that kills 5,200 people a year to be packaged in a slim, pink container like a perfume or lipstick.

Given all we know about the dangers of smoking, we cannot allow deceptive marketing gimmicks to be used to lure our children into a deadly addiction that will ultimately kill half of those who become addicted, he said.

Standardised packaging is the next logical step in combating this public health epidemic.

A coalition of charities and health groups have come together to lobby the Government to bring in laws making it illegal for cigarette companies to use colour, text and size to market tobacco products.

Packets would instead be in colours like green or brown and emblazoned with large health warnings and images of disease.

They said it is one of the last remaining and powerful marketing tools the manufacturers have.

Dr Reilly is expected to bring legislation in early next year to ban logos, branding, colours, graphics and trademarks from cigarette packets, making Ireland only the second country to do so after Australia.

He lost his brother, a doctor and smoker, to lung cancer and his father, another smoker, suffered a stroke and was blind for the last 14 years of his life.

The research on teens views of cigarette marketing, jointly commissioned by the Irish Heart Foundation and Irish Cancer Society, found cigarettes on sale in Ireland communicate fun and style, and give the perception that a smoker looks and feels better about themselves.

It found that cost plays a part in stopping teens buying premium brands, but appealing packaging has the power to generate buzz, incentivise a purchase and communicates perceived benefits of one brand over another.

All teenagers surveyed said the new unbranded packets were at odds with the image they want to portray.

When asked by researchers who would smoke cigarettes in plain packets, one teen said I d say an old person who smokes loads they are too far gone and wouldn t care if they are seen with the packs anyway.

The research also found branding helps to build identity and status and that they would want to be proud of brands they can show off to their peers

The study, carried out by Ignite Research, was launched by the coalition of organisations including the ISPCC, Barnardos, the Children s Rights Alliance, the Asthma Society, the Irish Cancer Society, Irish Heart Foundation and ASH Ireland.

According to the HSE s National Office of Tobacco Control, manufacturers need to recruit 50 new smokers a day to replace those who die or quit.

During the research, teenagers were shown cigarettes and asked to class them as rejected, acceptable and aspirational brands.

Key factors were colour, box and cigarette shape, pack imagery and the brand name itself, while some thought the positive brand attributes, such as glamour, fashion or job status, are projected on to the smoker.

Some slim, lipstick shaped boxes were described as classy, and looking good on a table.

How to limit smoking cigarettes: 7 steps (with pictures)

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One needs discipline. To go from a pack or more, to 5 cigarettes a day is really hard at first, but it gets easier after several weeks and months. One’s body chemistry becomes acclimated and will adjust to less nicotine over time, such that too many or too few cigarettes might make one feel ill. Also it might be like moving from the basement to the top floor, consciousness wise. Cigarettes cloud your consciousness fewer cigarettes will make for a clearer mind. One will always slip and smoke more. The mind can rationalize anything. The trick is to limit the slip to only one, two or three. And always, always the next day and day thereafter go back to the five only rule.