The World Health Organisation recommends a blanket ban on tobacco ads to protect young people from smoking. But manufacturers have already countered the strike with sweet-flavoured cigarettes to attract teenagers. (Report: AFP)
In a statement released ahead of World No Tobacco Day, May 31, the U.N. agency said sophisticated marketing techniques were ensnaring young people in fashion magazines, in films, on the Internet, and at concerts and sporting events.
"The more young people are exposed to tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to start smoking," it said, accusing cigarette makers of "falsely associating use of tobacco products with qualities such as glamour, energy and sex appeal."
Most smokers take up the habit before the age of 18, and almost a quarter of new smokers are younger than 10, according to the WHO.
In a survey of 13-to-15 year-olds worldwide, the agency said that 55 percent had reported seeing advertisements for cigarettes on billboards in the previous month, and 20 percent owned an item with a cigarette brand logo on it.
The WHO in 2003 clinched the first global public health treaty which called for stronger warnings on cigarette packages and limits on advertising and sponsorship, though these have not been put in place everywhere.
Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative, said that a full ban was necessary to ensure that young people were shielded from dangerous messages, particularly in poorer countries where companies often target girls.
"Half measures are not enough," he said. "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.
The world's largest cigarette manufacturers include Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco.
Date created : 2008-05-31