Cigarette packaging can help teenagers pack it in

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HEALTH campaigners today welcomed a study which claims plain cigarette packaging would help cut the number of teenage smokers.

Research by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found that standardised packs are more likely to put teenagers off smoking than current designs, which include health warnings alongside the manufacturers’ own branding.

The poll found youngsters from Australia, where plain packaging was introduced almost a year ago, are more likely to be deterred from taking up the habit than British youngsters.

Plans to adopt a similar approach in England were put on ice earlier this year when the Government announced the proposal would be postponed until ministers had a chance to assess its impact Down Under.

But now, BHF research has found that only a third – 36 per cent – of UK teenagers are deterred from smoking by current cigarette packs compared to almost half – 48 per cent – of their Australian counterparts.

Ailsa Rutter, director of anti-smoking group Fresh North East, said: “Once again, the evidence is clear that heavily branded, brightly coloured packs are attractive to children and that we need urgent action. Fifteen is the average age smokers start here in the North East, and the more attractive something looks, the more likely someone will try it.”