Peers not packets influence young smokers

YET again, Ash Scotland’s Sheila Duffy’s inept argument dilutes her admirable desire to stop children taking up smoking (Letters, 4 August). Clutching at ­credibility, she ­accepts that “young people ­often obtain cigarettes through adults”.

What is important is who supplies the first cigarette, and that is almost always another youngster from a peer group, not an adult. Either way, the fact is, as Ms Duffy states, completely irrelevant, but not in the way she means.

The irrelevance applies to cigarette packets, which play no part whatever in attracting children to smoking: I don’t believe a single child anywhere ever took up smoking because of “seductive” packaging.

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Ms Duffy makes the point that “children see cigarettes as desirable”, but that desirability lies in joining their friends in the habit, not in association with a piece of cardboard. Maybe she imagines them comparing packets the while.

We are assured of 40 or more studies showing that plain packs achieve the aim of making cigarettes less attractive; a scenario unlikely among adults who already smoke, let alone among children who are unlikely ever to see them. I am deeply suspicious of all such “research”, and while I have no personal interest in packaging or smoking – apart from discouraging children from starting – I find myself irritated by unfounded claims which result from it.

Robert Dow, Tranent