Talking cigarette packs to help or hinder health efforts?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013  at 09:57

Talking cigarette packs may help smokers to quit, a piece on the BBC website reported yesterday. Cigarette packets that play recorded messages urging smokers to quit have been created by researchers at Stirling University.

Cigarette butt
Cigarette packs could soon play recorded messages
The packets play audio clips giving warning messages about the dangers of smoking when they are opened.

The recordings warn of the link between smoking and fertility as well as a helpline number to help quit.

They are said to have worked will during tests carried out on a group of women aged 16 to 24.

The study is set to continue, with tests on bigger groups of males and females, aged 16 and over, about to begin.

Crawford Moodie, part of the team who invented the packs at Stirling University, said: "Tobacco companies may use talking packets in the future as part of marketing.

"This research shows how the idea can be used to promote 'positive health' to smokers."

'Potential impact'

Sheila Duffy, from anti-smoking charity Ash Scotland, said: "I welcome the suggestion that we get more creative to put forward messages of good health and freedom from addiction as alternatives to tobacco.

"We need accurate research to assess the potential impact of any new packaging ideas on people of all ages.

"This latest research, involving young women who smoked, did not suggest that such packaging innovations made cigarettes more attractive to them."

Alison Cox, from Cancer Research UK, said her charity had funded the Stirling study in a bid "to see if the marketing tools of the tobacco industry can be used to help smokers quit instead".

The Scottish government earlier this year pledged to support standardise tobacco packaging, in an effort to help people stop smoking.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson also set a target to reduce the number of smokers in Scotland from 23% to 5% by 2034.

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* This number reflects the total amount of people who have signed up to support the plain packaging of tobacco products, via the Plain Packs Protect Partnership (logos below), British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK websites.
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