A group of teenagers have unveiled the first study in Scotland looking at how cigarette packaging influences young people.
Pro-choice information group W-WEST (Why Waste Everything Smoking Tobacco?), who are funded by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), worked in collaboration with Dr Crawford Moodie of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research at Stirling University to carry out the research.
And the findings could provide a critical argument in the international debate to replace attractive cigarette packaging with plain wrappers.
The information was gathered from an online survey carried out as part of W-WEST’s Plain Truth campaign, which attracted responses from 658 smokers and non-smokers aged between 10-17 years.
The study revealed that a third of young people mistakenly believed that lighter coloured cigarette packs represented “safer” cigarettes. However, 90 per cent saw plain packs as “uncool” and “unattractive” and two-thirds thought that plain packs would be used by “unpopular” or “unfashionable” people.
Even the design of cigarette packs can influence a youngster’s choice, with approximately one in three preferring slide opening or slender shaped plain packs.
Dr Moodie said: “This is a very important survey as packaging remains the only real marketing platform left for tobacco companies to promote cigarettes, with most forms of marketing now banned. Although many people, academics and policymakers included, have failed to recognise the true importance of cigarette packaging, to their credit W-WEST realised the importance of packaging right away.
“The fact that pack shape and method of opening appeals to some young people has implications for countries such as Australia, for example, who are intending to introduce plain packaging next year, and it lends weight to the argument that packs should have a standardised shape and opening as well as colour.”
The youth group is made up of both smokers and non-smokers, and aims to provide young people with easy access to the real facts about smoking, so that they can decide what is best for them.
Melanie Owens, NHSGGC Health Improvement Practitioner for Tobacco, said: “Dr Moodie has been incredibly supportive of W-WEST and the work that we are doing.
“We hope that this research will play an important part in the on-going campaign to raise awareness about smoking and how it affects people and the tactics of the tobacco industry to promote its products.”
Meanwhile W-WEST are showcasing their work at a free, special event at Scotland’s national stadium, Hampden Park, on Saturday between 10am and 3.30pm.
The full programme, being staged in the stadium’s function suites, includes performances from the Paisley-based theatre group PACE, information sessions looking at global issues and tobacco, how advertising has changed over the years, and a discussion about the way forward for the group. The event is being chaired by Emma Papakyriakou, ASH Scotland’s Youth Development Officer.
Notes to Editors:
W-WEST was officially launched in June 2009 and since then have developed an interactive website – www.w-west.org.uk - and campaigned on issues relating to smoking and the tobacco industry.
For more information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected].