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"With Cancer Research UK's support we're now looking at using this research as a basis for further research into the attitude of women smokers to tobacco packaging and how this is influenced."

The UK government is expected to begin a public consultation on the future of tobacco packaging in late 2011. If the UK was to remove all marketing from tobacco packaging it would be second only to Australia.

The Australian government has announced that all tobacco must be sold in plain packaging from July 1, 2012 and that graphic health warnings will cover 75 per cent of the front and 90 per cent of the back of packs.

Jean King, Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco control, said: "This research offers a revealing insight into the power of the cigarette packet. For too long the tobacco industry has been able to influence smokers' perceptions through subtle marketing techniques.

"But wrapping tobacco in plain packets with prominent picture health warnings would help remove this influence. It's important to remember that half of all long term smokers will die from the addiction so it's vital we do all we can to help smokers to quit and stop young people from starting."

Source: Cancer Research UK