WHO calls for ban on tobacco Ads
The United Nations health agency the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for a ban on tobacco advertising and promotion in order to protect the world‘s children. The news release from the WHO came on Friday, one day before the annual World No Tobacco Day held each year on May 31.
This year’s World No Tobacco Day focuses on highlighting the practices of tobacco companies in their efforts to promote their products to young people. According to a WHO press release, studies show that young people are more likely to start smoking if exposed to tobacco advertising. The WHO notes that only five percent of the world population “is covered by comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship”.
The WHO appeals to member states and policy-makers to require by law a comprehensive ban on all forms of advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco products,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa Luis Sambo, in a statement released Saturday in Kampala, Uganda.
“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. “A ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is a powerful tool we can use to protect the world’s youth.”
The WHO said that tobacco companies are specifically targeting the half billion youth in the Asia Pacific region by tying smoking to the idea of a flashy lifestyle. The agency said the tobacco industry attempts to take advantage of children’s susceptibility to advertising and marketing.
According to the WHO most people take up smoking before they reach age 18, and almost twenty-five percent of smokers worldwide are under the age of 10. The agency said that a survey of 13 to 15 year-olds found that fifty-five percent had seen cigarette ads on billboards in the prior month, and twenty-percent owned something with a cigarette company’s logo.
According to BBC News, in the last ten years female and adolescent smoking in Russia has tripled. Russia does not have many anti-smoking laws. BBC News compared this to Canada, where smoking levels are at their lowest in 40 years and the country has very restrictive laws on smoking advertising.
“The tobacco industry employs predatory marketing strategies to get young people hooked to their addictive drug. But comprehensive advertising bans do work, reducing tobacco consumption by up to 16% in countries that have already taken this legislative step,” said Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative.
Reuters reported that companies Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco are among the world’s largest producers of cigarettes.