WHO sounds alarm over aggressive tobacco marketing
The health organisation says that the advertisements launched by tobacco companies are mainly targeted at teenagers.30 May 2008
MANILA - The World Health Organisation (WHO) raised alarm Friday over what it called the aggressive marketing ploys of tobacco companies to entice teenagers to smoke.
Giant multinational tobacco companies are targeting about half a billion young people in Asia and the Pacific to get hooked into smoking at an early age, according to WHO's Western Pacific Region office, which is based in Manila.
"Youngsters are led to believe that certain types of cigarettes do not contain nicotine, when in fact they do," said Shigeru Omi, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific Region.
"These tactics, along with bombardment of messages through billboards, newspapers, magazines, radio and television networks, as well as sports and fashion sponsorships ... are meant to deceive young people into trying their first stick," he said.
On the eve of World No Tobacco Day, the WHO officials denounced how companies use colourful packages, some resembling boxes of crayons, or manufacture cigarettes with different flavours in an aggressive bid to attract youngsters to try their product.
The WHO noted that for the tobacco industry to survive, it must entice new and young customers in order to replace those who died due to tobacco-related illnesses or those who quit the habit.
The WHO urged policy-makers in the region to support a total ban on tobacco advertising in order to curb the industry's ability to attract the youth.
"Research showed that only a total ban can break the tobacco marketing net," it said in a statement. "Partial bans merely allow companies to shift their vast resources from one promotional tactic to another."
The WHO warned that the more young people are exposed to tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to use tobacco.
[dpa / Expatica]