This topic is for paid for discussions. Please mail us at insight@mumsnet.com if you'd like to know more about how they work.

NOW CLOSED Please talk to Cancer Research UK about cigarette branding on packs and how to stop children from starting smoking

(77 Posts)
TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 25-Jun-12 15:16:43

The folks at Cancer Research UK would like to find out what effect Mumsnetters think cigarette branding and packaging has on children.

Cancer Research UK is campaigning for putting cigarettes in plain, standardised packs, because its research shows it will make smoking less appealing to children. So although the campaign isn't aimed at current smokers, the charity is still keen to get a view from everyone.

If you smoke now, did the branding/packaging have any influence on your choice to start smoking or not?

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried?

If you're a non-smoker, how do you feel about cigarette packaging? Do you notice it at all?

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place? Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them?

Thanks for taking part,
MNHQ

Tambasher Tue 26-Jun-12 18:56:56

I started smoking before packaging changed.

My Dc detest me smoking, hence why I am attempting to quit, I'm on my thrid time now, the pictures of the lungs greatly influence myDC, they asked about it "hat it was" I told them and I was still smoking, they looked at me like I was well really really stupid, I attempted to explain when I started smoking it was the "in" thing, you could go buy cigs for 5p each for the local Newspaper shop.

I don't think mine will smoke, they know I detest it, they know I detest standing outside in the rain/hail/snow bloody smoking, they know I am trying to quit, they also get annoyed with me for not just doing it!!

I think my children only know the brand I smoke, my parents smoked, I used to steal their, 5 from Mums pack, 5 from Dads pack, if I found out they smoked, wow......I would feel very very guilty, I think I would take them to my local GP and have them explain the complications further.

I really hope/pray and don't think they will smoke as my mum and dad are now both non smokers and I hope to be joining them soon!!

Tambasher Tue 26-Jun-12 18:58:12

Sorry about typos cooking burning dinner also!

Jux Tue 26-Jun-12 19:39:27

Don't smoke, but when they opened those shutters in Tesco and I saw all those lovely packs, I suddenly got a desperate desire to start. DH had to drag me out.

Use shock tactics on primary kids by showing them a clean lung and the lung of a smoker. For secondary kids calculate how long it would take to save up to buy a car/motorbike using the price of a pack of fags a day.

The pictures on the packs are a waste of money as are the warnings. No smoker I know (and I know many) pays any attention to them.

I remember the B&H ads; they were fantastic. They wouldn't have started anyone smoking though, far too obscure!

stressheaderic Tue 26-Jun-12 20:38:09

I don't smoke but I'm a high school teacher so the issue comes up a lot. I do honestly think it's 'less cool' than it was when I was at school. In fact, the vast majority of my students think it's disgusting and pointless.

I think the health warnings and horrid pictures do nothing to be honest. You wouldn't see them after the first few times.

Poster above who said present it to teenagers by showing them what they could save up for instead - that is a fantastic idea. Teenagers think they are immortal and explaining future health risks probably just sounds like some other incongruous nagging to them.

stressheaderic Tue 26-Jun-12 20:38:10

I don't smoke but I'm a high school teacher so the issue comes up a lot. I do honestly think it's 'less cool' than it was when I was at school. In fact, the vast majority of my students think it's disgusting and pointless.

I think the health warnings and horrid pictures do nothing to be honest. You wouldn't see them after the first few times.

Poster above who said present it to teenagers by showing them what they could save up for instead - that is a fantastic idea. Teenagers think they are immortal and explaining future health risks probably just sounds like some other incongruous nagging to them.

MegBusset Tue 26-Jun-12 22:46:17

If you smoke now, did the branding/packaging have any influence on your choice to start smoking or not?
I don't smoke any more.

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried?
They were Marlboro Lights, because it's what my older sister smoked!

If you're a non-smoker, how do you feel about cigarette packaging? Do you notice it at all?
I have a few friends who smoke and the packaging does seem much plainer than when I was a regular smoker. Eg I used to smoke Camels partly because the packaging was so cool, they used to do limited edition designs etc. You don't really see that now.

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place? Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them?
My DC are too young to really know what smoking is. I wish they would just ban it tbh, that would be the easiest way to stop children smoking! As an ex-smoker I guess it would be hypocritical for me to say they should never ever do it while it's legal and freely available. I would just make it plain that it is a waste of money, the awful health implications and the smell etc.

HipHopGorilla Tue 26-Jun-12 23:20:11

If you smoke now, did the branding/packaging have any influence on your choice to start smoking or not? I'm an ex-smoker, but branding / packaging didn't haven't any influence on the decision to start smoking.

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried? It was the cheapest one!

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place? Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them?
My DD is 5 so although she knows about smoking and knows it's unhealthy she doesn't recognise any brands of cigarettes as she just doesn't come across them. I don't think you can stop your child from becoming a smoker one day, if that's what they choose. Obviously you only have control over what they do for so long, once they leave home and earn their own money they can spend it on ciggies if they want and there isn't a great deal you can do. I will tell DD the truth about how cigarettes affect your health with loads of gruesome detail (when she's old enough to understand), and how expensive they are, and how hard it is to quit once you've started. However I knew all this, my parents were very anti smoking, and yet still started smoking at university so I guess you can only do so much.

runningforthebusinheels Tue 26-Jun-12 23:21:53

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried?

It was Silk Cut, in the 90's. They were beautiful little purple and white packets, and when I first started smoking had "collectable" cards inside showing all the billboard adverts. For those not young enough to remember, Silk Cut had a series of ingenious ads - with just a picture depicting a 'silk cut' - eg. a piece of purple silk material with a cut in it - with no wording/product name on at all. Now THAT'S successful branding. From memory I collected all the cards.

I gradually changed to Embassy No1 when I met my (now) husband, as that was his brand (and probably my tastes got stronger). I remember the red and white glossy packs and the association with Snooker (and motor racing possibly).

At University, a lot of girls smoked Silk Cut or Marlborough Lights. Blokes seemed to go for B&H (Gold) or Marlborough (Red & White triangles with the urban myth that they depicted KKK). Someone upthread said about the Marlborough 'softpack' being really cool, and part of US film culture and I really remember that. A few real hardcore people smoke Death Cigarettes which had a black pack with a white skull on. I do think branding is very important when it comes to cigarettes, although unconsciously so (like most advertising/branding).

There were other 'old people' brands which I wouldn't have bought - like JPS or Superkings. I would say that the vast majority of students I mixed with in pubs and clubs in the 90's smoked 3 brands - Silk Cut, Marlborough or B&H.

TYping all this has just made me feel a bit sick at how much I used to smoke. I gave up when I had children - it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I feel it's all going to catch up with me one day.

I would support plain branding - I honestly couldn't say whether it would have prevented me from starting smoking in the first place, but I do vividly remember the packets, the whole 'trendy' ritual of smoking. I'm very pleased my dc will only ever experience smoke-free pubs/clubs etc.

runningforthebusinheels Tue 26-Jun-12 23:24:19

Some of the silk cut billboards ads I referred to are shown here.

runningforthebusinheels Tue 26-Jun-12 23:39:12

oops, not old enough to remember....

tigercametotea Wed 27-Jun-12 02:44:44

I remember first getting into smoking as a teenager when I was with my first non-serious boyfriend. But he was a really good platonic friend of mine really. I just never wanted to admit he was a boyfriend. He neither. He smoked Marlborough and/or Camel cigarettes - the non-filtered kind, which makes you spit - and so that was what I started on. I was a casual smoker but would also smoke when I was feeling stressed. I also started buying Marlborough menthol ciggies as that was what I preferred. Then it all sort of tapered off eventually after I stopped seeing him. I met another boyfriend, this time, he was generally a non-smoker though he would smoke very occasionally, so anyways, I did not purchase any ciggies. I just took them from friends who offered on nights out. When I later started work as a hairdressing apprentice, I started smoking regularly again, as all my colleagues smoked, I did it too. It was a way to connect, I suppose, since they would gather on ciggie breaks outside the back door of the salon to smoke, chatting, etc... But then after I quitted that job, I stopped smoking altogether. I have not, since then, ever felt inclined to buy another pack of ciggies. Though I cannot rule out the possibility that in the future I may, depending on circumstances. My dad was a pretty heavy smoker when I was a child, I have many childhood memories of being in a smoke-filled house. I would never smoke in the home though, if I have children present.

I do support the idea of plain packaging for cigarettes but I don't think it would have mattered that much to me back then when I used to smoke. I smoked because of circumstance, not because I found the packaging attractive. I did not even like to be seen carrying around a ciggie pack! I think I smoked mainly because of the kind of company I kept. I saw it as a way of connecting to someone. But I can see how plain packaging might help deter some people from smoking. Some people smoke because of the image it gives them and I suppose in those cases, the packaging design would influence their choices.

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place? Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them?

I don't personally think I can actually stop a child from wanting to smoke. Smoking is a very personal choice. I do think that the media has a part to play in this - portraying "cool" people with ciggies etc. - but this has generally been curtailed a lot nowadays (unlike when I was growing up as a child). Still, if a child liked rock music in particular, he/she may then still come across images of their favourite band/musician smoking and then think it is cool. That's why I don't think it's possible to stop a teenager thinking those thoughts unless we heavily censor everything they come into contact with. What we can do though is make them very aware of the dangers of smoking, of the health risks. What they do with the information we give them is up to them though..

I have broached the subject with DCs a few times in the past so they know smoking is harmful and has a lot of knock-on effects on health. DH smokes and even he tells them it's bad (however I feel that is just a conflicting message he's sending). However he will just not quit. He loves it too much. He has always been a smoker since I knew him, and it is something he does not want to stop. I think he will only do so if he really wants to. He does however, listen to my wishes of only smoking outside so we don't get too much second hand smoke. He also takes a walk or whatever after smoking so when he gets back indoors he doesn't smell of smoke noticeably. He also only smokes once a day after getting home from work in the evenings - and he only does it after the kids have gone to bed.

My children don't know any brands of ciggies because DH only smokes roll-ups and he hides them out of sight from the kids so they don't see the packs of tobacco around.

I have never smoked, yet I am very aware of the branding hierarchy of cigarettes. I think the plain packets are a great idea.

I have not yet discussed smoking with DS, but he is probably aware that I move away from people who are smoking when we are in a crowd.

Also, I think the non-branding should apply to all tobacco products, not just cigarettes. I am concerned that some people seem to think that roll-ups are safer than cigarettes.

tigercametotea Wed 27-Jun-12 13:19:43

I agree plain packing should be on all tobacco products, even roll up tobacco. DH smokes roll ups not because he thinks it's safe, he smokes them cos they're cheaper. But it seems apparently some people do think roll ups are safer than ciggies. No tobacco product is safe.

Princesslovelyboo Wed 27-Jun-12 14:19:37

If you smoke now, did the branding/packaging have any influence on your choice to start smoking or not?

Not at first, it was to 'fit in' and 'be cool and rebelious', but after a while I did like to be seen to be smoking a particular brand which was obvious by the packaging

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried?

I think it was Benson and Hedges at first, (easy to nick off friends as they had them) then Mayfair (as they were cheap) but then I only wanted to be seen with Marlborough Gold packs

If you're a non-smoker, how do you feel about cigarette packaging? Do you notice it at all?

I am now a non smoker and did not think that the packaging made any difference intill I thought about the reasons that I bought the Gold pack ones and it was to be seen as having the 'best' ones not the cheap bargain ones.

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place? Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them?

DS (14) knows I used to smoke and is happier now I have stopped, he knows it is bad for you and is very smelly. I think plain packaging will take the prestige out of who can afford the best ciggies, I don't think it will completely stop it sadly. I would support a ban in public places, but then children can still smoke at home.

knittedslippersx3 Wed 27-Jun-12 16:15:08

Don't smoke, never have and take no notice of branding/packaging etc.

Tips to stop children smoking? Bloody wish I did, then dd (16) would never have started. I tried everything to make her stop, showed photos of how her looks will deteriorate, told her of people I have lost due to smoking etc. Begged and pleaded with her. NOTHING WORKS!!! Ban the fucking things altogether. I know I rant but my heart broke the day I found out she smokes and as a teen she thinks none of the crap stuff that goes with smoking will ever happen to her sad

Roseformeplease Wed 27-Jun-12 16:44:32

If you smoke now, did the branding/packaging have any influence on your choice to start smoking or not?

Yes. I don't smoke now but remember being very "brand" addicted. I would give up but only really, really crave one, to the point of giving in when I saw or smelled "my" brand.

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried?

I grew up a non-smoker in a smoking household and, being a very good girl, didn't take it up until I was 18 when I smoked the very brand my parents had always smoked.

If you're a non-smoker, how do you feel about cigarette packaging? Do you notice it at all?

I haven't smoked in years but the purple colour on the white background still makes me feel the need.

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place? Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them?

I think not smoking ourselves and being vocal about how horrible it is will help. They also hate being with my family who all still smoke and cough and complain a lot. I would be very surprised if they did smoke and I doubt they know brands particularly.

Rindercella Wed 27-Jun-12 19:18:16

I stopped smoking about 7 years ago, so n/a

Can't really remember. Pretty sure it was B&H, gold packaging. It would have been whatever my parents smoked. I moved on to Marlboro Lights in the early 90s as I thought the packaging was 'cooler' hmm

I really like that in supermarkets the cigarettes are hidden behind a screen. So I don't really know what packets look like. I guess I see the odd one, but tbh I don't really notice them.

My DC are very young (4 and 2) and thanks to the ban of smoking in public places they know very little about cigarettes. We do have some family members who smoke, but they tend to be very discrete so the girls don't notice. They are definitely not aware of any brands. If/when the subject arises in the future I will probably just play it down. Dunno - play it by ear. My biggest tip to children is just not to start to begin with. It's a dirty, smelly, expensive habit and an absolute bitch to quit.

madwomanintheattic Wed 27-Jun-12 20:39:20

I've never smoked, not so much as a drag. Don't understand why people do. Dh is exactly the same.

Don't notice cigarette packaging at all. Couldn't tell you which was which, or colors or, whatever. I do see ads, I think, on the rodeo circuit, but they obv don't leave much impression.

The dcs are 12, 10, and 8, and this far seem to have been brainwashed effectively, and don't appear to understand the point of smoking.
The 10yo had the opportunity to witness a healthy pig's lung at school, and dissect it a bit, and to apparently do the same with one that had been a heavy smoker. (I admit to being slightly baffled by this, but am willing to run with it). He was most grossed out, but tbh wasn't intending to randomly take up smoking in any case.

What are fag sales like then? In comparison with twenty years ago? I imagine steady decline.

Fwiw, my mum and gran were heavy smokers. Gran died at 55 after a stroke. Mum had first series of strokes at 32. She did give up at that point, and is currently well past 60 and exists on a cocktail of medication which keeps her alive if not exactly healthy. Any of my kids that decide they fancy smoking will be pointed in her direction.

flapjacks Thu 28-Jun-12 12:31:32

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried?
First cigarette I tried was B&H, I thought it tasted dreadful. You'd think that would be enough to stop me trying again, but no, I moved onto Embassy No 1 & went on to smoke them for about 12 years (I gave up about 9 years ago). I first tried B&H because I thought it was the nicest looking packet (how nuts is that?!!!). I then moved onto Embassy as it was the other popular choice amongst my peers at the time. Like a previous poster on this thread, there was a definite hierarchy amongst cigarette brands within my peers. Marlboro Lights and Silk Cut Low / Ultra Low were seen a "not as bad for you" option, & were definitely for girls only. B&H and Embassy (not Regal) were on a par with one another as the ones to buy, & Superkings / Red Band were just awful & for those who couldn't afford anything else.
I definitely think standardising packaging would deter children, the plainer & duller, the better.
Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place? Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them?
I have 2 DSs - the oldest is 4 1/2 years, the youngest is 5 1/2 weeks! My DS1 has seen people with cigarettes & has asked what they're doing. I have told him that they're smoking & he's said it smells horrible & wafts his hand under his nose. I will tell him one day that I used to smoke, but not for a long while. I don't want him to see anything positive in it. Both of my parents smoked for many years, & my father still struggles from time to time. I believe seeing them do it made me think in my early years that it must be acceptable & an OK thing to do. When my sons are ready to ask more questions I will be matter of fact about cigarettes & push the health factors & also the financial implications.

SoSad007 Thu 28-Jun-12 12:45:57

If you smoke now, did the branding/packaging have any influence on your choice to start smoking or not?

No, I don't smoke any longer. When I started smoking, it was a friend's mother who gave me the cigarettes, so no, the brand/packaging did not have any influence. Once I was a confirmed smoker though, yes the brand and packaging had an influence.

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried?

I remember smoking some menthol brand at first, but then moved onto another brand soon after. I guess it reflected that I was a young professional in my first 'real' job.

If you're a non-smoker, how do you feel about cigarette packaging? Do you notice it at all?

I am a non-smoker these days, quitting over 10 years ago. I don't notice packaging, but I feel the plainer the packaging the better. As a marketing professional, yes, even the packaging can be used to lure smokers in.

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place? Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them?

Not sure about this one, as I don't have children. The only suggestion I have is to educate them in schools before they get the chance to even try smoking.

lorisparkle Thu 28-Jun-12 14:12:11

If you smoke now, did the branding/packaging have any influence on your choice to start smoking or not?

Have never really smoked

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried?

As above - have never really smoked

If you're a non-smoker, how do you feel about cigarette packaging? Do you notice it at all?

Don't really look at or have noticed cigarette packaging

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place? Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them?

As a family we are all non-smokers including grandparents, in laws, aunts uncles etc. We don't socialise with people who smoke either. As they get older I hope my children don't smoke. My grandad died of throat cancer caused by smoking and this had a profound affect on my parents attitude towards smoking. I also try to be very negative about the smell of cigarette smoke and if my DS ever asked I would talk about smoking in negative terms. I think that the current push to have smoking and cigarettes 'hidden' from view and very bland and unattractive is excellent and hope this prevents children from smoking. I do think that it is a lot to do with peer pressure as children get older.

purpleroses Thu 28-Jun-12 16:38:49

If you smoke now, did the branding/packaging have any influence on your choice to start smoking or not?
n/a

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried?
Whatever friend had and offered. Would then buy similar. Learned which brands were milder and bought them.

If you're a non-smoker, how do you feel about cigarette packaging? Do you notice it at all?
I only notice the nasty health warnings. I don't think branding or lack of branding will stop people trying their first cigarette because they're almost certain to try one that someone else has bought. Noone goes into a shop to buy cigarettes if they've never yet tried one. But it might help stop people start buying them and therefore smoking more regularly.

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place?
Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them?

Not discussed much yet - my kids are of the age of thinking it's disgusting and no intention of trying it. They don't notice any branding much now that there's no smoking in public places. I doubt they could name any brands.

bb99 Thu 28-Jun-12 23:12:04

I smoked many some years ago and yes, the brand was oh so everso important - and the pack (we didn't like the continental packaging of the brand).

'We' says it all - it was a pack thing. 'We' all smoked X brand 'they' all smoked Y brand. A bit sad now, but we were only kids (aw).

My teenager got put off fags (I hope...) as I nag PLUS she found out it makes your fat bits sag as the chemicals destroy some chemical bonding in the fats (clever stuff I don't understand - did make me go ew tho and would have put me off fags a bit)

We only got told about lung cancer (all sounds like BLAH BLAH BLAH when u r a teenager). Wrinkles and saggy bits and why fags make THEM happen may have appealed to my younger,vainer self.

Discussing it with dc - I have always been honest about being an ex cigarette addict. I have explained fags are more addictive that heroin (dc joked - would you prefer me to take heroin then, ha ha ha ha) discussed the tax and cost of fags (added up over a year - loads of money) discussed physical affects tho she knew a LOT more than I did from school science lessons, talked about what a disgusting habit it is, smelly breath, clothes, stained fingers, money loss (could be used for exciting things like cinema or new mobile phone or ipad) smelly hair, being banished outside all the time, really easy to get addicted - just a few puffs, LONG and uncomfortable withdrawal when trying to give up. Plus MIL smokes like a chimney so dc has 1st hand experience of that lingering stench smell.

I think the non-smoking in public places has made it a lot harder for youngsters to smoke. I could puff away in pubs, cafes etc and have a good chancce of spotting any parents or relatives from a distance and stubb out my ciggie - if I had been forced outside I would have got caught a LOT more...

bb99 Thu 28-Jun-12 23:15:22

Some kids are always going to want to be 'bad' tho and some will always try to do things that shock us oldies - like smoking. Some will also think it makes them look grown up or sophisticated. We all learned to 'french inhale' and blow smoke rings and hold the fag in a variety of ways, to show how 'cool' we were.

Need to make it a thing that young people think is really old or stupid or unfashionable/uncool/unfat (whatever the term is these days)

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now