Professor tolerates no ifs and no butts

Geoff Maslen

An Australian researcher has called for government action to stop tobacco companies selling cigarettes in enticing packages that lure school students into smoking.

Melbourne University's Professor Glenn Bowes said research had shown that nearly eight out of 10 adolescents found no-frills cigarette packages more boring and uglier than regular packets. Students said plain packets would make non-smokers less likely to take up smoking.

Professor Bowes, who directs the centre for adolescent health at Melbourne, said the federal government should force companies to package all cigarettes in plain packets. This would help some of the 70,000 young Australians who start smoking every year from taking up the habit.

"Tobacco is a toxic, addictive and ultimately lethal drug," Professor Bowes said. "It is unacceptable to allow the industry to package this drug in an attractive and enticing manner."

Although the proportion of adult Australians who smoke has fallen over the past five years, the proportion of teenage boys and girls smoking has risen in most age groups. Professor Bowes called for a ban on tobacco sponsorship of sport and proper enforcement of laws banning cigarette sales to children. He said there should also be regular increases in the real price of tobacco.

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