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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

Solo Tue 03-Jul-12 09:51:44

I don't really notice brand packaging. I have never smoked, never wanted to try and I thank God for that.

I was brought up with both Mum and Dad and both Maternal Grandparents smoking, but my Granddad was by far the heaviest smoker at a 100 a day! He went cold turkey and gave up at about the age of 56, but the effects of smoking had already messed his body up and he had to have a lung removed after it collapsed a year or two later. He lived for a week beyond his 60th birthday as the other lung did the same. Grandma died because of cancer at 64.
My Mum decided that if her Dad could give up, so could she and she did at the same time her Dad did. Never went back to it. My Dad went from roll ups to a pipe and then had to give up for the last time when he developed emphysema. He then was dx'd with lung cancer which killed him.

My Ds, despite watching his hero Granddad die from smoking related illness and me taking him to see The Bodies exhibition and seeing the diseased lungs was goaded into trying to smoke at age 11 and I was pretty mean to him tbh, telling him that his Granddad would be so disappointed in him etc. I don't think he even wants to do it again as he didn't like it (thank God!). Dd thinks it's disgusting and who am I to change her attitude? long may it continue! but she may well have been influenced by me in the first place (she's 5).

I don't think either of them notice branding, though Ds does hang around with his cousin who smokes roll ups!

prettybird Tue 03-Jul-12 09:34:59

Never smoked, never wanted to. Brought up in a family (dad a doctor) where it was always seem as a disgusting, smelly and stupid habit. Was taught to (and still do) respond to the question, "do you mind if I smoke" with, "yes, I do" (why ask if you don't actually want to hear the answer? hmm)

Fortunately I never went through the "rebellion for rebellion's sake" stage as a teenager: I wasn't stupid enough to damage my health I did sulk and be a right little madam for a few years though wink

Ds (11) similarly thinks it is a smelly, stupid habit. His paternal grandfather died recently of lung cancer brought on from smoking since he was 14 (he was supplied with cigarettes when he joined the merchant navy as a 15 year old! shock) so he is adamant he will never smoke.

Mograt Tue 03-Jul-12 00:52:25

I've never smoked. Never even tried it. It just didn't appeal. I'm the child of a smoking father and a non-smoking mother who told me they didn't want me to smoke but couldn't stop me if I wanted to do it.
Smoking at my comprehensive was done in a risky way by the 'Yobs' at the back gate. (My school was split into two groups, the Yobs and the Snobs, not my names! - I belonged to the latter group, the uncool spotty kids who did their homework!)
The Yobs were the too cool for school kids who all had boyfriends and girlfriend and smoking was all part of being grown up and being subversive. There were definitely favourite brands and these were akin to badges that werre worn to show you belonged.
I've always been very aware of cigarette packaging and the advertising images that went with them. They were everywhere when I was growing up and each brand had a distinctintive personality and purchaser. My father unusually smoked Disque Bleu or Gauloise and these were a definite part of his identity and although I hated him smoking I actually rather liked this mysterious 'foreign' side to his identity.
As teenagers at college we were told about the dangers of smoking and shown images of healthy vs smokers' lungs and that did a lot to put me off.
My DC of twelve and ten have been totally put off smoking by school, they loathe the smell of smoke and have to be shushed to be tactful as they make loud noises of disapproval and flap their hands around to clear the smoke if they pass smokers in public places. Whether this attitude will last I don't know. They don't have a clue about cigarette brands even though my DH and I work in marketing and design so talk about brands and pacaging a lot (of other products that we work with).
My father died from emphysema so I make it clear to my DC what can happen to those who smoke. I hope this will underline the valuable work done by their school

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Tue 03-Jul-12 00:40:55

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

I haven't but probably 80% of my friends did as teenages/in their 20s. There were most certainly 'cool' and 'uncool' brands. I guess the packaging had a part in that, but I think availability was also a big thing - types that you could only get overseas were way cooler.

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

No, don't notice it, really.

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?

Oldest dc is only 4, so this hasn't come up. we don't really know many smokers now, and ds doesn't seem to have noticed cigarettes at all- he's certainly never commented on them.

If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future?

I am cravenly hoping that society more or less does it for me, and that smoking will be such a massive faux pas by the time mine are getting to that age that they won't want to. But I am probably may be delusional!

GetKnitted Mon 02-Jul-12 20:54:54

I'm a non-smoker and tbh the only packaging I can remember was the one I discovered (age 13?) in my dad's pocket when he was having a crafty one every now and then. I don't actually remember the name. Not sure what that says about branding, I didn't nick one and try it, but the purple package left an impression.

Jux Mon 02-Jul-12 17:10:46

grin @ CuppateaJane!

I've just read your post to dd and she has gagged. She said "that's just cruel"!

CuppaTeaJanice Mon 02-Jul-12 16:18:10

I don't think plain packaging is discouraging enough, tbh. The packaging needs to have something really unpleasant to teens in an embarrassing way, for example middle aged people in bikinis, snogging.

BlueStringPudding Mon 02-Jul-12 10:15:55

I have never smoked, but was under huge pressure to do so when at school and at sixth form where it seemed almost all of my friends smoked (and the cool people hung out in the smoking room). Although I wavered a few times and thought about it (Silk Cut appealed because of the packaging and the 'low-tar' claim) The reasons I didn't were:

My Dad would have gone mad - I used to get a lot of grief about smelling of smoke - from just hanging out with friends, but at least I could honestly say I didn't smoke.

and

I had pneumonia as a small child and recall being told very firmly by the doctor that I must never smoke;

I now have teenager daughters who I'm fairly confident don't smoke. My aunt died of lung cancer (heavy smoker) 6 years ago in her 50s, and they were old enough to understand what and why. I have also told them that I think genes play a part in how likely you are to contract it if you smoke, and that as my aunt died relatively young, there's a good chance that I and they also have a gene that pre-disposes them.

edam Sun 01-Jul-12 21:25:55

I started smoking when I was drunk in my first term at university. So I wasn't thinking very critically about smoking or about branding. However, Marlboro red was v. cool and they are what I smoked when I sobered up enough to buy my own fags instead of poncing off everyone else, so presumably branding had an impact.

Tips - no idea. ds has had an anti-smoking video at school showing smokers' lungs which he found very distressing.

MrsCog Sun 01-Jul-12 18:54:02

If you smoke now, did the branding/packaging have any influence on your choice to start smoking or not? I don't smoke now, but when I was 14/15 I always thought it would be 'cool' to have to carry a box of cigarettes and a lighter in my handbag as well as purse etc!

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried? Never really smoked but did try many times as a teen (and wanted to get in to it but smoking made me feel too ill (luckily)), I tried Malborough Lights as that's what most people smoked and they seemed more 'feminine' and B&H as that's what all the cool people smoked and they were seen as 'quality'.

If you're a non-smoker, how do you feel about cigarette packaging? Do you notice it at all? These days never notice it and couldn't tell you if it's changed since about yr 2000.

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?

Don't know. Luckily DS is only 17 weeks old so not an issue yet. I hope by the time he's old enough for this to be an issue, smoking as a hobby will be even rarer than it is now. He certainly won't really be exposed to smoking as neither me or DH smoke, no one in our families smoke, none of our friends smoke and smoking is now banned in public places. I hope that this combined with hoping that if/when he tries a cigarette it makes him feel as rancid as I did will put him off!

maxpower Sun 01-Jul-12 13:40:49

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

If you have smoked in the past but since quit, what do you remember about the first cigarette brand you tried? only ever a social smoker for a while back at uni - I smoked the brand my friends did.

If you're a non-smoker, how do you feel about cigarette packaging? Do you notice it at all? Not really, although I do notice that the health warnings have got much bigger

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place? IMO it's a cluture issue. If you send a clear message that smoking is an unhealthy habit and model that behaviour by not smoking yourself, it's what becomes normal for your DCs. Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do? not explicitly but DD(5) is always pointing out people who smoke in a disapproving tone of voice (sometimes a little too obviously!) If not, how do you think you would address this situation if it arose in the future? I'd reinforce the health risks and explain why it's not a good choice and that I'd be disappointed in her if she decided to start smoking. Do your children notice or know any brands of cigarettes? If so, how do they know them? I don't think she does.

Snog Sun 01-Jul-12 12:14:29

Kids won't smoke if they think it's "unsexy" so a big campaign about the yukkiness of how smokers smell and how bad they taste to kiss would be effective.

Would help to make smokers pariahs however which I think is unethical

FairPhyllis Sun 01-Jul-12 10:23:49

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

I have never smoked. I can't visualize what most brand packaging looks like currently as I don't smoke, I don't know anyone who smokes branded cigarettes, and I don't look at them in shops closely enough. I remember what Marlboro Lights looked like because they were the cigs of choice in my girls' school (they were considered healthier and more feminine!), and I know what the health warnings typeface and border looks like. In fact I remember that better than anything else about the packaging.

I think it's worth a go at standardizing packaging but brands are also to some extent created by their users to identify themselves as a group - that is the aspect of branding you will find hardest to break.

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place?
I can only say why I didn't become a smoker - nobody in my immediate family smoked, so I hated the smell and taste of it. Parents were also full of disapproval for smoking - dad is an ex-smoker and is fanatical about how bad it is that people in the extended family still smoke - and I was not a particularly rebellious child. I also saw health effects on family - my grandfather, two aunts and a cousin all died during my childhood almost certainly as a result of smoking. Oh yes, and I would never have parted with the money!

Salonikia Sun 01-Jul-12 01:19:51

1) Gave up 'brands' and 'packets' since I was 19, then smoked every now and again socially and for stress relief until TTC.

2) Smoked anything I could get my hands on to get used to it (not cool coughing in front of others!). Then settled on Marlborough (it was either that or Camel where I grew up) because I liked its taste more. From what I know of all my friends the main reason for taking up smoking was to be accepted in your peer group. Brand choice followed that.

4) Perhaps they should print case studies of lung cancer patients on packets, possibly x-rays of smokers. It's usually what I hear people mention when they are thinking of giving up/not taking it up.

We never mention smoking other than if we pass someeon smoking i might comment how they stink (dc are only 9 and 5) if the dc ask what they eating / doing, my mum (nanna) had a stroke and smokes and if they ever mention her inability to move her arm/ walk properly, speak clearly i say its because she smoked - rightly or worngly i dont know but i want to link it to something negative because i hate smoking more than anything.

When I did my dissertation for my degree, I did a study of the "diet and smoking habits" of students at the university I attended. I had a sample of about 100 and used a questionnaire. Anyway, my findings were that a lot of the smokers were "social smokers", only a few a day, and only when out with friends, and that they almost all smoked one particular brand that was perceived as "cool" at the time. Oh and the girls smoked because they firmly believed it would help them stay/get thin confused
When I started smoking (at 12) it was because all the "hard" kids smoked at school, and I was studious a swot and got bullied. By having ciggies and sharing them, and smoking, it was an "in" and I was left alone.
By the time I left I was the cigarette baron of fifth year making quite a lot of money using my dinner money as the initial investment and turning a huge profit each week. I even hired a bodyguard. Some brands were seen s "cheap" and less cool than others even then, and people would pay more for one of some brands than they would for others. JPS were the coolest brand, and even something like a beer towel with that logo on was desirable at the time. They were followed by Marlboro because they were "what rock stars smoked" - Marlboro and Jack Daniels were "it".
This was in the early to mid 1980s.
The first cigarette I ever tried was a B&H and it made me sick, and I hated them after that. It was generally agreed at school that they were too strong though. I have a clear memory of a big gang of us hanging about round "smokers corner" and laughing at the "world's first natural born smoker" advert that used to be on, we thought it was hilarious.
My children don't smoke, but I have a feeling that's because I died twice on the living room floor in front of them when I had my second heart attack a while ago, not because of any advice or adverts or hiding the boxes or anything.
The more you try and put youngsters off, the more they will want to do it. They need to think it's deeply uncool. It would help if celebs weren't constantly pictured puffing away I think. Or only scruffy hasbeen past it looking terrible out of work celebs maybe, that could be more of a turn off.

insancerre Sat 30-Jun-12 10:15:27

Knittedslipper
I could have written your post. I agree with every word.

Quip Fri 29-Jun-12 21:50:12

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

I've never smoked so N/A

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

N/A

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

I do notice it. I recognise the logos, and the colours look attractive - e.g. gold packs, white with red etc. I think it would be excellent if all fag packets had to be algae green or prosthetic-limb pink with Times New Roman 12pt font on.

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've discussed smoking with eldest DCs (6 and 4) when they've asked. I talked about it being an addiction, and what that means. I have showed the eldest some of the pictures in the anti-smoking ads as a result of our conversation. The smoking bans in public places really help because they hardly ever see smoking, so it's really not part of their normal environment. I don't think they know brands, but before there was a ban on shop displays, DS2 asked me if he could have the "sweets up on the wall" behind the counter of the newsagent.

nickschick Fri 29-Jun-12 21:15:04

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

I dont smoke and never have but feel that I can add to this discussion,my mother smoked heavily and died of ovarian cancer in her late 30s my mil died of breast cancer many years after giving up smoking.

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?

I do notice cigarette packaging and it makes me cross that the colours used are appealing to children one teen I know actually tries to match her nails with her cigarette packets,I dont think the images of diseased lungs and the warnings on the packs are affecting the youngsters i think closer to home information about impacts on health now about premature ageing,wrinkles,anything thats visible now and I know most teens are sensitive about dental hygeine so I strongly think imagery from these angles would be more effective.

Finally, do you have any tips to stop children from smoking in the first place?

With ds 1 he has never smoked he has asthma he has friends who smoke but i dont allow smoking indoors except for grandad who smokes cigars and would only pretend not to hear me if i asked him to go outside,ds2 however is quite different he does smoke and all the pleading from the specialist at hospital (he has an illness) the dentist and myself hasnt worked.a lot of the kids seem to be smoking 'doleys' rollups from smuggled tobacco so the images dont affect them but then you cant be sure what they are actually smoking.....so ive got him a gym membership on condition he stops smoking and so far it seems to be working.

I also have a very unorthodox way of discouraging teens from smokinghmm I have been known to show them pics of my v glam looking mum and then accidentallyshow them photos of my emaciated mum 2 weeks before she died sad this came about whilst trying to stop ds2 smoking ...it didnt stop him but it stopped another teen ...

Is this a subject you have discussed with your DC? If so, what did you say/do?

its something i really dont like its a dreadful habbit that you cant stop easily and ive always told my dc this.

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?

All the kids locally know all the brands and even hiding the cigarettes behind screens in the supermarket hasnt stopped them knowing whats cheapest .

Thanks for taking part,

JaffaSnaffle Fri 29-Jun-12 21:07:02

I am an ex-smoker.

I started when I was 16 when I started going to pubs. Drinking and smoking still has a huge correlation in my mind.

I smoked Marlboro Lights because I was as Suziekettles said, an Indie kid. It was a huge part of the culture I was surrounded by. All my friends smoked either Marlboro or Camel or Lucky Strike. There was something very pleasing about unwrapping the plastic off a cigarette packet, pulling the foil off. I find the smell of smoking horrible now, and the thought of it seems mad, but I do have good memories of it, and the ritual of unwrapping shiny gold packets was a part of it.

A big part was also packs of 10 which made it seem relatively less expensive. As a teenager, I couldn't always stump up the £3.50 or whatever it was then, but usually had £2 to spare.

grinningbee Fri 29-Jun-12 16:41:13

I am a non-smoker, so packaging has no effect on me.

My dc are only 19 months and 3 years old at the moment. But when the time comes for the talk about smoking, I shall tell them about Auntie Margaret who is currently dying. She has lung cancer (both lungs now), which has spread to her brain, lymph glands and liver. She was also diagnosed with blood clots yesterday too.

Packaging idea for you - take a picture of my dd's face when I have to tell her that Auntie M is a star in the sky and she won't see her anymore. Anyone who can buy a packet of cigs and see that picture, and enjoy their smoke afterwards... enough said.

sad

runningforthebusinheels Fri 29-Jun-12 14:12:01

Agree that plain white packaging is too nice. It should be yucky yellow/brown.

coppertop Fri 29-Jun-12 14:00:21

I'm a non-smoker and always have been. I don't really notice the packaging at all, though sometimes the pictures of the damaged lungs catch my eye.

I've talked about smoking with my own children, and what it was like growing up in a house where someone smoked 60 a day. I've talked to them about the smokers I know who have died from lung cancer. I think Roy Castle even got a mention, and the effects of passive smoking.

It was the children themselves who brought the subject up, after having to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke from people smoking outside a building. They don't know anything about cigarette brands, and don't seem to notice them at all.

Derklugehans Fri 29-Jun-12 11:03:07

IMO the best way to stop children smoking is to promote a healthy lifestyle.

This would go a hugely long way towards preventing all cancers, not just lung cancer.

It would also help enormously with body image issues, so that self-destructive behaviour such as smoking (often started by girls to lose weight) would be reduced.

If I had my way, Cancer Research would divert the majority of its vast, vast funds away from drug research and into the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Stop the cancers from starting; reduce death from cancer that way.

pumpkinss Fri 29-Jun-12 09:55:30

I think that the way to try and prevent children from even considering starting smoking is to tell and show (pictures and specimens!) them about the facts from an early age, so that it is not considered 'cool' but 'stupid'.

For instance, the number of harmful chemicals in just one puff, the 'real time' effect on your lungs, cardiovascular, and general health, the addictive side and also the aesthetic changes. I remember in a science lesson seeing how one cig caused a piece of white paper to turn black with chemicals within seconds. Who would want that accumulating in their lungs?

It really annoys me seeing youngsters smoking away just to be cool and fit in, when in actual fact they are plain stupid.
Sorry, rant over.

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