HEALTH experts in Wigan are backing government proposals to ban glitzy cigarette packaging which attracts children to smoke.
According to a survey by The British Heart Foundation (BHF), more than 19 per cent of 16 to 25-year-olds believe one branded cigarette pack was less harmful than another based on the packet design.
The report, which included responses from 341 12 to 25-year-olds in the North West, was published ahead of a government consultation on whether the UK should adopt plain packaging for tobacco products.
It reveals 75 per cent 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.
Almost a fifth of young people in the North West said they would consider the pack design when deciding which cigarettes to buy, while more than one in 10 said they would choose a brand because it was considered ‘cool’.
Coun Nigel Ash, chairman of the adult health and wellbeing scrutiny committee at Wigan Council, backed the plan.
He said: “Some of the biggest health problems we have got in this area are caused by smoking.
“We have a lot of lung problems and cancer, which are contributory factors to early deaths.
“So anything that diminishes the attraction of cigarettes, especially to young people we would certainly welcome,”
Betty McBride, director of policy and communications at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Young people are not always fully aware of the risks and the power of branding holds more sway.
“Glitzy packaging clearly still advertises tobacco on the cigarette box.
“It is an absurd loophole the tobacco industry takes full advantage of to lure in new young smokers.”
The government is to launch a public consultation by spring 2012 on whether the UK should adopt plain packaging for tobacco products.