Imperial Tobacco has become the third major cigarette supplier to launch a brand targeted at women in just four months.

Richmond Superslims are the latest piece of NPD to hit the market ahead of the introduction of the ­tobacco display ban for larger stores next April.

The product, which is being heralded as the UK’s first superslim brand in the value-priced cigarette sector, rolled out to stores this week and is available in standard and menthol 20 packs priced £6.16 the same price as Richmond Superkings.

The standard pack is embossed with a stylish pink design that is replaced by a mint green version on the menthol variety.

As with similar recent launches from BAT and Philip Morris Vogue Perle and Virginia S by Raffles respectively the new packs are clearly designed to appeal to female smokers.

Richmond Superslims were a “positive innovation” for the value cigarette sector as a whole, claimed Imperial Tobacco consumer marketing manager Sue Tranter.

“The superslim and menthol segments of the tobacco category have been in significant and consistent growth,” she said. “Growth in recent years and our ongoing market monitoring told us the time was right to launch this new elegant superslim brand at a great value price.”

Tranter added that more than one in 10 cigarette purchases in the UK were from the Richmond range.

BAT’s launch of Vogue Perle in April was criticised by health charities, who ­accused it of overplaying the “trappings of style, supermodels and staying slim”.