Tobacco firms attacked over 'super-slim' cigarette packs

In collaboration with the Press Association

Tobacco firms have been criticised for marketing cigarettes at young women following the news that Silk Cut is launching a range of super-slim cigarettes in packaging that is likely to appeal to females.

The campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has attacked the company's latest product, which consists of thinner-than-usual cigarettes housed in a package resembling a perfume box.

The Japanese-owned company that produces Silk Cut, Gallaher Group, told the Independent on Sunday that the new product represents "elegance and quality".

A spokesman for ASH, Martin Dockerell, said that the tactic has been used in the US for a number of years.

He revealed: "In the States there has been a long tradition of products marketed at women, particularly young women, with boxes that are somehow more female-friendly."

As well as being concerned about the new brand's packaging, the campaign group is also worried that the use of the words 'super-slim' plays on teenage girls' desire to lose weight.

ASH director Deborah Arnott said that the terminology is designed "to make the link between smoking their product and losing weight".

"Like a dog whistle that is inaudible to humans, this message is only heard by those it's aimed at - in this case, girls anxious about their weight and desperate to stay slim. It's despicable for the industry to target vulnerable young women in this way," she remarked.

Elspeth Lee, Cancer Research UK's head of tobacco control, commented: "Wrapping cigarettes in attractive packaging is one of the last marketing tools left for tobacco companies. This packaging is used to entice new smokers into the addiction.

"Cancer Research UK is calling on the Government to introduce new measures that make plain packaging on all cigarettes compulsory."