Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. It is the only legal consumer product that kills one third to one half of those who use it as intended by its manufacturers, with its victims dying on average 15 years prematurely.
Approximately 1.8 billion young people (aged 10-24) live in our world today with more than 85% found in developing countries. Having survived the vulnerable childhood period, these young people are generally healthy.
However, as the tobacco industry intensifies its efforts to hook new, young and potentially life-long tobacco users, the health of a significant percentage of the world’s youth is seriously threatened by their deadly products.
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and child and adolescent experimentation can easily lead to a lifetime of tobacco dependence.
Globally, most people start smoking before the age of 18, with almost a quarter of those beginning before the age of 10. The younger children are when they first try smoking, the more likely they are to become regular tobacco users and the less likely they are to quit.
A strong link between advertising and smoking in young people has been proven. The more aware and appreciative young people are of tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to smoke or say they intend to. As a result, the tobacco industry is spreading its marketing net as widely as possible to attract young customers. Tobacco companies market their products wherever youth can be easily accessed – in the movies, on the Internet, in fashion magazines, and at music concerts and sports events.
In response to this threat, World No Tobacco Day 2008 campaigns for a “Total ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry”.
It is clearly proven that exposure to direct and indirect pro-tobacco advertising, together with other marketing strategies used by the tobacco industry, leads to an increase in experimentation by young people and, in turn, to the very real risk of their becoming regular users of tobacco products. The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars worldwide every year to effectively market its products in as many ways as possible.
In response to this threat to young people, this year’s World No Tobacco Day campaign focuses on the following main message: “One of the most effective ways countries can protect young people from experimenting and becoming regular tobacco users is to ban all forms of direct and indirect tobacco advertising, including promotion of tobacco products and sponsorship, by the tobacco industry, of any events or activities.”
Why do we need to campaign for a total ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship?
* Because about half the children of the world live in countries that do not ban free distribution of tobacco products to them.
* Because only total and comprehensive bans can be effective in reducing tobacco consumption.
* Because national-level studies before and after advertising bans found a decline in tobacco consumption of up to 16%.
* Because partial bans have little or no impact on demand since advertising can be switched to alternative media.
Source: The Daily Star.