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New online ad campaigh targets the nico-teenies

Anti-smoking campaigners unveiled plans today to use social networking and cinema ads to try to stop big tobacco firms luring in young smokers.

The Irish Cancer Society has created a fictional character representing cigarette companies to run the Teens Are Stupid initiative.

The campaign's Corporate Tobacco Man is to appear on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr with teens also urged to upload their own views on smoking.

Statistics from the Irish Cancer Society estimate 15pc of 12-17-year-olds smoke and about 29pc of the population. More than 80pc of smokers start before they turn 18.

The new drive also includes art installations featuring a teenage girl mannequin that will appear in shopping centres. She is trapped in a glass box full of smoke, with a handle allowing her to free herself but she doesn't -- like many people who continue to smoke, the society said.