World No Tobacco Day 2020: protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use
World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed on May 31st. WNTD aims to raise awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco on health. WNTD 2020 aims to protect children and adolescents from industry manipulation and prevent them from nicotine and tobacco use.
Adolescents are more likely to initiate tobacco use if they lack the awareness of tobacco and related industry tactics deliberately employed to hook them on nicotine and tobacco products and if they lack the skills to say no to nicotine and tobacco. Adolescents may try some form of tobacco or nicotine products when offered as a result of direct peer pressure, influenced by advertising, promotion and sponsorship, or simply as a result of not being equipped with the knowledge or skills to refuse it.
The World No Tobacco Day 2020 global campaign serves to:
- Debunk myths and expose manipulation tactics employed by the tobacco and related industries, particularly marketing tactics targeted at youth, including through the introduction of new and novel products, flavours and other attractive features;
- Equip young people with knowledge about the tobacco and related industries’ intentions and tactics to hook current and future generations on tobacco and nicotine products; and
- Empower influencers (in pop culture, on social media, in the home, or in the classroom) to protect and defend youth and catalyze change by engaging them in the fight against Big Tobacco.
Tobacco products kill more than 8 million people every year. Tobacco and related industries must continuously find new consumers to replace the ones that their products are killing to maintain revenue.
Tobacco companies spent over USD 9 billion in marketing and advertising and the world lost 8 million lives from causes related to tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke.
Tobacco and related industries’ tactics to market to children and adolescents include:
- Over 15,000 flavours, most of which attract children and adolescents
- Social media influencers and marketing
- Sponsored events and parties
- School scholarships
- Sleek, sexy designs
- Product placement in entertainment media
- Free product samples
- Single stick cigarettes make addiction more affordable
- Selling products at eye level for children
- Product placement and advertising near schools
We want to create a generation that is free from tobacco and second-hand smoke and the death and disease that they cause.
- Break free from the tobacco and related industries’ manipulation by becoming educated on their tactics and the harm caused by their products.
- Tobacco use is responsible for 25% of all cancer deaths globally. Use of nicotine and tobacco products increases the risk of cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease.
- Over 1 million people die from second-hand smoke exposure every year.
- Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life.
- E-cigarette use increases your risk of heart disease and lung disorders.
- Nicotine in e-cigarettes is a highly addictive drug and can damage children’s developing brains.
- Smoking shisha is just as harmful as other forms of tobacco use.
- Smokeless doesn’t mean that it’s harmless.
- Smoking is expensive, and you pay for it with your looks and your health. It causes bad breath, yellow teeth, wrinkly skin, unhealthy lungs and a poor immune system.
- Shisha smoke is toxic. It contains substances that cause cancer.
- Chewing tobacco can cause mouth cancer, tooth loss, brown teeth, white patches and gum disease.
How are tobacco and related industries manipulating youth?
- Use of flavours that are attractive to youth in tobacco and nicotine products, like cherry, bubble gum and cotton candy, which encourages young people to underestimate the related health risks and to start using them
- Sleek designs and attractive products, which can also be easy to carry and are deceptive (e.g. products shaped like a USB stick or candy)
- Promotion of products as “reduced harm” or “cleaner” alternatives to conventional cigarettes in the absence of objective science substantiating these claims
- Celebrity/influencer sponsorships and brand sponsored contests to promote tobacco and nicotine products (e.g. Instagram influencers)
- Point-of-sale marketing at vendor outlets frequented by children, including positioning near sweets, snacks or soda and providing premiums for vendors to ensure their products are displayed near venues frequented by young people (includes providing marketing materials and display cases to retailers)
- Sale of single stick cigarettes and other tobacco and nicotine products near schools, which makes it cheap and easy for school children to access tobacco and nicotine products
- Indirect marketing of tobacco products in movies, TV shows and online streaming shows
- Tobacco vending machines at venues frequented by young people, covered in attractive advertising and pack displays, and undermining regulations on sales to minors
- Litigation to weaken all kinds of tobacco control regulations including warning labels, display at point of sale, and regulations that limit access and marketing to children (specifically provisions to ban the sale and advertising of tobacco products near schools)
How can we join the fight against the Tobacco epidemic?
- Celebrities and social influencers – Reject offers of “brand ambassadorship” and refuse any form of sponsorship by nicotine and tobacco industries.
- Social media companies – Ban advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the nicotine and tobacco industries and prohibit influencer marketing of tobacco or nicotine products.
- Film, television or drama production companies – Pledge not to depict tobacco use or e-cigarette use.
- Parents and relatives – Educate children and adolescents on the harms of nicotine and tobacco product use and empower them to reject industry manipulation.
- Nurses and health practitioners – Provide children, adolescents, young adults and their parents, with updated information about the risks associated with use of these products and empower users to quit through the offer of brief cessation advice.
- Schools– Raise awareness of the dangers of initiating nicotine and tobacco product use, adopt tobacco and e-cigarette free campuses, refuse any form of sponsorship by the nicotine and tobacco industries, and prohibit representatives from nicotine and tobacco companies from speaking at school events, school camps, etc.
- Youth groups – Organize local events to engage and educate your peers and build a movement for a tobacco-free generation. Advocate for the adoption of effective tobacco control policies in your community to curb and prevent the manipulation of nicotine and tobacco industries
- National and local governments – Support the implementation of comprehensive tobacco control policies, as outlined in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This can help prevent industry evasion of tobacco control legislation and exploitation of regulatory loopholes, protect children and adolescents from industry manipulation and prevent younger generations from initiating nicotine and tobacco product use.
Source of info: World Health Organization