An example of a Page 3 girl from British newspaper <i>The Sun</i>.

An example of a Page 3 girl from British newspaper The Sun.

Blonde bombshell Staci Noblett was suffering through a dry business law course when opportunity came knocking. As of Monday, the 22-year-old was topless on The Sun's page 3, after deciding to - as the newspaper put it - ''take a bit of time out and give the modelling a go. And boy are we glad she did.''

That sound you can hear is a million feminists thwacking their palms into their foreheads.

Since February 1970, The Sun's page 3 girls have been a national institution, as British as soggy fish and chips or not turning the central heating up enough. But a new campaign to rid the newspaper's 7 million readers of their daily dose of smut may be making headway. Two weeks ago, after opponents mounted a concerted effort to stop Lego from advertising in The Sun, the children's toy company announced: ''Last week's promotion was the final of a two-year agreement and there are no further promotions planned in The Sun.''

The company's British vice-president, Fiona Wright, said: ''We listen very carefully to the opinions and input that people share, and will take your thoughts and opinions into consideration when reviewing future promotions.''

The campaign, on Twitter, Tumblr and other social media - simply dubbed ''No More Page 3'' - plans to use this precedent to pressure other major Sun advertisers, including supermarkets and mobile phone companies. It has generated a large following online and appears to be gaining momentum rather than petering out.

No More Page 3 began in August last year when 36-year-old actor and author Lucy-Anne Holmes picked up a copy of The Sun during the Olympics to read on the train, noticed the lack of a page 3 girl, and felt a sudden surge of happiness - until she realised the section had only been temporarily moved.

''These images shouldn't be in a newspaper,'' she said. ''It's time we looked at this decision [to run a topless photo on page 3] that was made in 1970 - a far more sexist era - and whether it should still stand today.''

So she took to social media and was astonished at the level of support she found.

''We are seeing broad support from all sorts of people - it's lovely and encouraging, and we're feeling quite powerful now,'' she said. ''We hear again and again people saying, 'Thank you very much, I've always hated this and now I've got a platform in which to state that'.

''We're known and we're having some mini exciting victories, but nothing's really changed so there's still a long way to go.''

One of those victories was Lego - though the tipping point there may have been the unfortunate juxtaposition of its promotion next to a feature on Seth MacFarlane's now-infamous Oscars song We saw your boobs, which displayed all the boobs in question.

But the campaign has also directly influenced many university guilds to ban the newspaper from sale on their campuses - including the London School of Economics, Manchester, Sheffield and two Oxford colleges. Ms Holmes recently met with two major Sun advertisers. Supermarket giant Tesco she found ''very cold'' and ''cursory'', but its rival Morrisons was ''quite terrific'' and promised to write to The Sun in support of her campaign. ''However, they said they can't withdraw their advertising because 'we're reaching so many people','' she said.

She is also finding it hard to get a celebrity on board. Too many recall the harsh treatment meted out to anti-page-3 politician Clare Short, who the paper dubbed a fat, jealous killjoy.

One influential celebrity seemed to be briefly on board. Last month, Rupert Murdoch tweeted in reply to a No More Page 3 supporter who said the idea was ''so last century'': ''You may be right, don't know but considering. Perhaps halfway house with glamorous fashionistas.''

But a day later, he attacked those who interpreted it as a signal to his News International employees, saying that was a ''typical OTT reaction by the UK PC crew''.

Sun editor Dominic Mohan staunchly defended the page at the Leveson inquiry last year, saying it was ''meant to represent the youth and freshness and it celebrates natural beauty'' - by not featuring models with obvious plastic surgery.

''I'm more concerned about images that my children might come across on the internet. I think [page 3] is a part of British society,'' Mohan said.

In his report, Justice Leveson said page 3 was an example of a ''general attitude'' throughout tabloid pages containing semi-naked women.

''Even the most accomplished and professional women are reduced to the sum of their body parts. There was a tendency to sexualise and demean women.''

His recommendation, which has yet to be taken up, was that a press regulator should have the power to intervene ''in cases of allegedly discriminatory reporting''.

Perhaps Ms Noblett should have kept up her business law studies.