Doctor is critical of cigarettes packaging

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A DOCTOR at Wansbeck General Hospital has hit out at a new super slim ‘perfume pack’ cigarette which she claims could encourage women to smoke.

Dr Shonag Mackenzie said she is appalled by tobacco industry bosses for appearing to exploit women’s obsession with supermodels and staying slim with the new cigarette.

Anti-smoking campaign Fresh and MPs have joined the doctor in criticising the new Vogue Perle packs, which British American Tobacco are hoping will “take off in the north”, according to some retail press reports.

The pack boasts of being designed in Paris, and is described as ‘taller and thinner than a king sized cigarette’ with a ‘compact box that fits easily into a pocket of handbag’.

Dr Mackenzie, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Wansbeck Hospital, treats women every week whose smoking has harmed or damaged their baby’s growth.

She said: “It is simply outrageous that they are allowed to get away with this.

“They are focusing on the north because more women smoke here than in other parts of the country and it’s a prime market for them to reap.

“Young women are obsessed with fashion and staying slim – exactly the message this pack is trying to give.

“The frightening thing is that it is young teenage girls who don’t yet smoke but are probably experimenting who are most likely to be influenced by this advertising.

“They will see all the lovely colours and assume that something that looks so nice can’t possibly be as unhealthy as doctors say.

“This might mean more profits for the tobacco industry and for the shops selling these, but it also means more babies born with health problems, more costs to the NHS and more families losing daughters, mothers and grandmothers at an early age.

“Unfortunately the NHS has a tiny budget to tackle smoking compared to the almost limitless budgets of tobacco companies.”

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “The tobacco industry clearly sees the north as a huge pound sign.

“This highlights the urgency now to follow what is happening in Australia and seriously look at plain packaging on tobacco to plug a serious loophole in the tobacco advertising ban.

“If glamorous designs on packs did not help it recruit new customers, the tobacco industry would not spend millions of pounds on developing them.

“The packs themselves are as powerful as any TV or cinema advert.”

The north east has the highest rate of female smokers in England with 25,000 female adult smokers (23 per cent of adult women).