International ban on cigarette advertising looms

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday urged governments to protect the world’s 1.8 billion young people by imposing a ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

The call to action came as the world marked the World No Tobacco Day on Saturday .

In a news dispatch from WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the UN health agency says this year’s campaign focuses on the multi-billion dollar efforts of tobacco companies to attract young people to its addictive products through sophisticated marketing.

Recent studies prove that the more young people are exposed to tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to start smoking. Despite this, only five per cent of the world’s population is covered by comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Tobacco companies, meanwhile, continue targeting young people by falsely associating use of tobacco products with qualities such as glamour, energy and sex appeal.

“In order to survive, the tobacco industry needs to replace those who quit or die with new young consumers,” said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “It does this by creating a complex ‘tobacco marketing net’ that ensnares millions of young people worldwide, with potentially devastating health consequences.”

“A ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is a powerful tool we can use to protect the world’s youth,” the Director-General added.

Since most people start smoking before the age of 18, and almost a quarter of those before the age of 10, tobacco companies market their products wherever youth can be easily accessed–in the movies, on the Internet, in fashion magazines and at music and sports venues.

In a WHO study of 13 to 15-year-olds in schools worldwide, more than 55 per cent of students reported seeing advertisements for cigarettes on billboards in the previous month, while 20 per cent owned an item with logo of a cigarette brand on it.

But it is the developing world, home to more than 80 percent of the world’s youth, which is most aggressively targeted by tobacco companies. Young women and girls are particularly at risk, with tobacco companies seeking to weaken cultural opposition to their products in countries where women have traditionally not used tobacco.

“The tobacco industry employs predatory marketing strategies to get young people hooked to their addictive drug,” said Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative. “But comprehensive advertising bans do work, reducing tobacco consumption by up to 16 per cent in countries that have already taken this legislative step.”

“Half measures are not enough,” added Dr Bettcher. “When one form of advertising is banned, the tobacco industry simply shifts its vast resources to another channel. We urge governments to impose a complete ban to break the tobacco marketing net,” he said.

International  International news in general
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