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Last Updated: Friday, 27 June, 2003, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Spoof cigarette warnings slammed
Images courtesy of fakefags.co.uk
The stickers aim to provide light relief to smokers
Smokers have been urged not to buy spoof stickers to cover up the new health warnings on cigarette packets.

A UK website has started selling stickers to replace the large black and white warnings, such as "Smoking kills", which dominate packs.

The stickers aim to make smoking "less stressful" with fag-friendly messages like "smoking is cool" and "you could get hit by a bus tomorrow".

However, anti-smoking groups criticised the website and have urged smokers to spend money on nicotine replacement therapies instead.

'Light relief'

The website, fakefags.co.uk, sells packs of 20 stickers for 3.99.

Edmond Bramhall, who set up the website, said the stickers aimed to provide light relief for smokers.

Spend your money on nicotine replacement therapies instead and give up
Doreen McIntyre,
No Smoking Day

"We set up the site because when I saw the new health warnings, I thought they were very stark and obvious. They are very serious," he told BBC News Online.

"I think people all over the country have been thinking up slogans they would like to see instead.

"It is meant to be a bit of a laugh."

Mr Bramhall is a reformed smoker. He said the stickers are not meant to undermine government policies to encourage people to kick the habit.

"If I thought the stickers were really undermining the effectiveness of health warnings I wouldn't have done it.

"I really don't think putting these stickers on cigarette packets detracts awareness from the fact that smoking is bad for health.

"Everyone knows that. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for health.

"But I think a lot of people have been put out by the government telling them that smoking is bad for them."

Stickers slammed

The charity No Smoking Day urged people not to buy the stickers.

Its spokeswoman Doreen McIntyre said: "It is quite amusing but I think the important thing is that this is a demonstration of how disrupting these health warnings are.

Telling people that smoking is cool is a dangerous message
Deborah Arnott, ASH

"They are causing smokers to feel that they need to cover them up

"It is a very difficult thing to be confronted with what is really in these products. All of this helps smokers to overcome their ambivalence to smoking," she told BBC News Online.

"My advice to smokers would be don't buy these stickers. Spend your money on nicotine replacement therapies instead and give up."

Deborah Arnott of anti-smoking group ASH criticised the labels.

"These labels do not strike me as being funny," she told BBC News Online.

"Telling people that smoking is cool is a dangerous message. That's why people take it up," she said.

"Cigarettes kill 50% of users, many in middle age. It also significantly increases the risks of lung and heart disease and some people even have to have limbs cut off because of circulation problems caused by smoking. None of that is funny."

The Department of Health believes the new health warnings are proving effective.

It said that more than 10,000 people have contacted the NHS smoking helpline looking for help to quit since the labels were introduced.

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