Glitzy packaging can dupe smokers into thinking cigarettes are 'healthy'

Changing the colour of a pack of cigarettes can persuade young smokers that they are safer, researchers have found.

One in four 16- to 25-year- olds who were shown two packets of Silk Cut, one with a blue background and the other purple, believed the blue packet was "healthier".

The British Heart Foundation, which commissioned the survey, said the results reinforced the argument for plain packaging. Tobacco displays are to be banned in supermarkets and large shops from April and the Government is to consult on plain packaging in the new year.

Betty McBride, director of policy and communications at BHF, said: "Glitzy packaging is an absurd loophole the tobacco industry takes full advantage of. We must close it if we really want to protect younger generations from taking up the habit."

Three quarters of the 2,700 surveyed said plain packs – with no branding or logos and larger health warnings – would make it easier to smoke less or quit.