Smokers being hoodwinked

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YOUNG smokers in South Yorkshire are being hoodwinked into thinking some cigarettes are less harmful than others because of the way they are branded, warns the British Heart Foundation.

A survey undertaken by the BHF found just over 13 per cent of 16-25-year-olds surveyed believed one branded cigarette pack was less harmful than another based on the packet design alone.

But the BHF say the reality is that all cigarettes contain harmful toxins, tar and carbon monoxide.

The report reveals 75 per cent of people surveyed think selling cigarettes in plain packs - with no colourful branding or logos, and larger health warnings - would make it easier for people to smoke less or quit.

One sixth of young people in South Yorkshire said they’d consider the pack design when deciding which cigarettes to buy while one in 10 said they’d choose a brand because it was considered ‘cool’.

A massive 89 per cent thought plain packs were less attractive than branded packs.

Betty McBride, director of policy and communications at the British Heart Foundation, said: “As informed adults we know smoking is a deadly addiction that kills half of all smokers.

“But young people are not always fully aware of the risks, and the power of branding holds more sway.

“Tobacco advertising is rightly banned in the UK. Yet packaging clearly still advertises tobacco on the cigarette box. It’s an absurd loophole the tobacco industry takes full advantage of to lure in new young smokers.”

The Government is due to launch a public consultation on whether the UK should adopt plain packaging for tobacco products.

n The BHF is asking people to log on to www.bhf.org.uk/plainpackaging to register their support for plain packaging.