A survey including nearly 1,000 participants aged 16 to 24 revealed that a health warning on the cigarette paper made smokers and non-smokers three times less likely to try them than standard cigarettes.
‘It may be possible to reduce the desirability of cigarette sticks by altering their design, e.g., with the addition of a warning or use of an unattractive color.’
Researchers wanted to examine new, innovative ways to reinforce health messages around smoking. They surveyed nearly 1000 16-24-year-olds from across the UK to evaluate their response to different cigarette designs.
A health warning on the side of each cigarette meant young people - including smokers and non-smokers - were around three times less likely to want to try them than standard cigarettes. Smokers were the most put off by them.
Young people also said that green cigarettes were less tempting than standard cigarettes.
Smoking tobacco is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK and the leading cause of preventable death. While smoking rates among young people in the UK are going down, one in every six 16-24-year-olds is a smoker in Great Britain. And in Scotland a fifth of all 16-24-year-olds smoke.
Dr Crawford Moodie, Cancer Research UK-funded scientist and lead author said, "The study shows how cigarettes can be an important communication tool and that altering their appearance, with a health warning or an unappealing color, 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."
George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK's senior policy manager said, "Too many young people are still taking up smoking in the UK. Government anti-smoking campaigns and tax rises on cigarettes remain the most effective methods to stop young people starting. We need to continue to explore innovative ways to turn young people off cigarettes to ensure that youth smoking rates continue to drop. This study shows that tactics like making the cigarettes themselves unappealing could be an effective way of doing this."