Ugly Cigarettes with Health Warnings Can Deter Young Smokers

Survey Shows Making Cigarettes Green Could Help Stub Out Youth Smoking

Making cigarettes an ugly green colour and adding health warnings to the paper itself could help stub out youth smoking suggests a recent study.

Young smokers are three times more likely to be deterred from smoking if warnings like ‘Smoking Kills’ and filters and paper are coloured green, mirroring the green colour of current cigarette packaging, the new survey shows.

For the research, almost 1,000 16 to 24 year olds were shown conventional cigarettes, the green-coloured alternatives and another with a health warning written on it.  Those taking part said they’d be less likely to try the modified cigarettes than the current format.

Dr Crawford Moodie, lead author on the study said in The Independent newspaper that “cigarettes are another communication tool and altering their appearance can make them less desirable.  Young people who start smoking are likely to continue to do so into adulthood, so anything that may deter smoking among this group could help to tackle the potential health repercussions in later life."

However smoking lobbyists have said that tampering with cigarettes is not the answer and have suggested that the need to put warnings on the cigarettes themselves shows the plain packaging measures have had no effect.

Simon Clark, director of Forest a group which campaigns against tobacco control, said: “Clumsy and heavy-handed state interventions that rely on scare-mongering invariably fail because the health risks of smoking are already well known to teenagers and adults.

“If the Government wants fewer people to smoke the solution is not to impose more regulations on cigarettes but to encourage existing smokers to switch voluntarily to products such as e-cigarettes that provide a safer yet pleasurable alternative.”

Since May tobacco has only been available in green packaging.  According to researchers it’s ‘the ugliest colour in the world’, and it’s part of ever-increasing legislation to make cigarettes less appealing.  Cigarette base taxes were also increased to make them less affordable.

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK and published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal.  While smoking rates are on the decrease, in the UK one in six 16-24 year-olds are smokers.  In Scotland one in five people aged between 16 and 24 are smokers.