ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each day in the United States, nearly 4,000 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette. Within that age group, an estimated 1,000 youth become daily cigarette smokers.
Now, a new study out of Glasgow, Scotland, found that young teenagers find slimline cigarettes stylish, feminine, and possibly safer than regular brands.
Thin cigarettes are seen as weaker, more palatable and less harmful by a group of 15-year-old teens apart of a focus group.
Researchers found that some super-slim brands actually contain more dangerous tobacco chemicals than thicker brands.
“Teenagers are most attracted to slim and super-slim cigarettes with white filters and decorative features, describing them as ‘classy and nicer,” the authors of the study said.
Researchers asked 48 boys and girls their opinion on eight brands; each brand differed in length, diameter, color, and design.
“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,” professor Gerard Hastings, one of the study’s authors and Cancer Research UK’s social marketing expert at the University of Stirling said. “It’s time policy makers moved to standardize both.”
“This important study reveals for the first time that adolescents associate slim and decorative cigarettes with glamour and coolness, rating them as a cleaner, milder, and safer smoke,” Allison Ford, co-author and also from the University of Stirling, said. “It is incredibly worrying to hear that adolescents believe that a stylishly designed cigarette gives a softer option.”
According to News Corp Australia, the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom will debate whether or not cigarette packaging should be standardized.
The study was published in the European Journal of Public Health.