Cigarettes could be branded with stark 'smoking kills' logo

Cigarettes could be branded with the words 'smoking kills', according to academics.

Cigarettes could be branded with the words 'smoking kills', according to academics.

The move would be a bid to crack-down on the numbers of young people taking up the habit.

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The message would be printed on every cigarette in a packet, rather than just on the box itself.

Academics from the University of Stirling Institute of Social Marketing carried out a study, and found that women surveyed found the messages 'depressing, worrying and frightening'.

The possibility of warnings on cigarettes is included in the Scottish Government's tobacco-control action plan, 'Raising Scotland's Tobacco-free Generation'.

It suggests changes to "colour, composition and/or warning messages on each stick".

The study showed smokers felt the approach could discourage young people and those starting to smoke, from taking it up.

The stark warning would be visible as a cigarette burnt in an ashtray, and would be a persistent reminder every time the person smoking inhaled.

Academics canvassed the opinion of 120 smokers, aged 16 and over, in 20 focus groups held in Edinburgh and Glasgow in 2015.

Within every group, participants felt that warnings on individual cigarettes would potentially have an impact on themselves or others.

Dr Moodie said: "The consensus was that individual cigarettes emblazoned with warnings would be off-putting for young people, those starting to smoke, and non-smokers.

"This study suggests that the introduction of such warnings could impact the decision-making of these groups.

"It shows that this approach is a viable policy option and one which would - for the first time - extend health messaging to the consumption experience."

Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's prevention expert, said: "Too many young people are still taking up smoking.

"Government anti-smoking campaigns and tax rises on cigarettes remain the most effective methods to stop young people starting smoking.

"But we need to continue to explore innovative ways to deter them from using 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."