Campaigners against plain packaging for tobacco have slammed as “sexist” a study suggesting it would convince more women to quit.

The Stirling University study involved 187 female smokers using their preferred brand but in plain brown packs. It found they were more embarrassed and negative about smoking from plain packs than men. They smoked fewer cigarettes and less around others and also thought more about quitting.

But Hands off Our Packs campaigner Angela Harbutt dismissed the findings. “The idea plain packaging will have a greater impact on young women suggests women are more easily influenced than men. This is not only an outdated view of women, it is incredibly sexist.

“When graphic warnings were introduced there was some initial shock value but consumers - men and women - quickly ignored them. The same will happen with standardised packaging.”