Anti-smoking group wants to change white paper to unattractive green, brown and orange shades

Public health researchers say the Government's next step after introducing plain packaging for tobacco should be to make cigarettes ugly by changing them to a dark green or brown colour which made young people think of "slime, vomit or pooh".

A tobacco control lobby group told a parliamentary committee that cigarettes themselves were the "new canvas" for anti-smoking initiatives.

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The health select committee is considering a law change that will require cigarettes and loose tobacco to be sold in bland packs with standardised fonts and large, graphic health warnings.


Researcher and former public health physician Professor Richard Edwards, representing anti-smoking group Aspire2025, said the Government should already be looking beyond plain packaging to further measures which made smoking unattractive to young people.

"What we want to achieve here is to make packs as dissuasive as possible," he told the committee yesterday.

Aspire2025 had studied young people's responses to "dissuasive sticks" - green, brown and orange-coloured cigarettes.

"They particularly disliked [the] greenish hue," Professor Edwards said. "Words that were used were slime, scum, vomit and pooh for this particular stick.

"Dissuasive sticks would remove the final illusion - the idea that clean white sticks with purposeful but actually useless filters can somehow purify what is an inherently toxic product. They expose cigarettes for what they are."

Action on Smoking on Health (Ash) said the Government should set strict specifications on the size and colour of cigarettes.

Ash spokesman Michael Colhoun said that in the months before Australia introduced its plain packaging regime in 2012, tobacco companies released longer and slimmer cigarettes in an attempt to retain an image of glamour and a point of difference when the law came into force.

Extending standardised labelling from packets to the cigarettes themselves would spark a huge backlash from the industry, which has already taken legal action against the Australian Government in an attempt to protect its intellectual property.

Several submitters - including the Food and Grocery Council - yesterday urged Parliament to drop the proposed plain packaging regime, warning that it would breach New Zealand's international trade agreements.

Australia selected an olive-green colour for its tobacco products because it was found to be the least attractive colour to smokers.

Stamping it out: What's next

• Green or brown-coloured cigarettes.

• Larger health warnings and quitline advice.

• Banning variants such as "mild" or "light".