Younger smokers are snapping up slimline cigarettes for their feminine and stylus appearance, while at the same time believing them to be less of a health risk than cigarettes. According to a new study carried out by Cancer Research UK, a group of 15-year-old smokers generally agreed that thinner cigarettes were less harsh to smoke and healthier than full-size cigarettes.
In reality however, many of the slimline cigarettes currently on general sale are loaded with more tar, toxins and chemicals than larger alternatives.
The data collected shows how younger teenage smokers see slimline cigarettes as generally “nicer” and more “classy” than traditional cigarettes, pointing out their all-white appearance and elegant shape as points of attraction. Larger cigarettes with traditional brown filters by contrast were by the teens taking part called everything from “old fashioned” to “disgusting”.
“Our research confirms previous studies that both the pack and the product are powerful marketing tools in the hands of the tobacco industry which it is using to recruit a new generation of smokers. It’s time policy makers moved to standardise both,” said Cancer Research UK representative Professor Gerard Hastings following the study.
“This important study reveals for the first time that adolescents associate slim and decorative cigarettes with glamor and coolness, rating them as a cleaner, milder and safer smoke,” added Allison Ford, the study’s co-author based at the University of Stirling.
“It is incredibly worrying to hear that adolescents believe that a stylishly designed cigarette gives a softer option.”
The UK’s leading Cancer Research charity is a strong advocate for standardised appearance of tobacco products which they believe would make smoking a far less attractive habit in the eyes of young teenagers and children.
“The slimmer diameters of these cigarettes communicated weaker tasting and less harmful-looking cigarettes. This was closely linked to appeal as thinness implied a more pleasant and palatable smoke for young smokers,” read an extract from the study’s resulting paper.
“This exploratory study provides some support that standardising cigarette appearance could reduce the appeal of cigarettes in adolescents and reduce the opportunity for stick design to mislead young smokers in terms of harm.”
The UK government is expected to look into the charity’s packaging standardisation proposals over the coming weeks.