WHO Warns of ‘Tobacco Offensive’ Vs. Youths


MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The World Health Organization (WHO) today raised the alarm on the tobacco marketing net that targets half a billion young people in the Western Pacific Region, warning of the industry’s marketing ploys to hook youngsters into addiction at an early age.

In a statement to mark World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, WHO said the tobacco industry preys on the vulnerability of young people, knowing that they underestimate the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine. WHO called on policy-makers to support the ban on advertising, sponsorship and promotion called for in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. WHO warned that:

* The more young people are exposed to tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to use tobacco.
* Widespread tobacco advertising makes tobacco use look normal and makes it difficult for young people to believe that smoking can kill.

“Youngsters are led to believe that certain types of cigarettes do not contain nicotine, when in fact they do,” said Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “These tactics, along with the bombardment of messages through billboards, newspapers, magazines, radio and television ads, as well as sports and fashion sponsorships and other ploys, are meant to deceive young people into trying their first stick.”

WHO emphasized that research showed that only a total ban can break the tobacco marketing net. Partial bans merely allow companies to shift their vast resources from one promotional tactic to another, including falsely associating use of their products with desirable qualities such as glamour, energy and sex appeal, as well as exciting outdoor activities and adventure. Other than advertisements on billboards, in magazines, and on television, radio and the internet, the industry also ensures its products are highly visible in movies, in the world of fashion and in charity events. (WHO / pinoypress.net)

Tobacco companies sponsor sports and entertainment events, hand out branded items and advertise at point of sales to attract young people. Girls and young female adults are specially targeted. The rise in tobacco use in this group, the tobacco industry’s special focus, is a challenge that has to be dealt with urgently, Dr Omi said.

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