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New Study: Global Tobacco Marketing Impacts Young Kids

October 07, 2013


Tobacco companies claim they don’t market to kids. But a new study conducted in six low- and middle-income countries provides fresh evidence that tobacco marketing and branding are highly effective at reaching kids.

In the six countries studied – Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Russia – more than two-thirds of five- and six-year-olds surveyed were able to identify at least one cigarette logo. In China, where smoking rates are among the highest in the world, an alarming 86 percent of children surveyed could identify at least one logo.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics and conducted by the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

What was amazing to me was how we saw kids who don't live with smokers but were very aware of cigarette brands,' lead author Dina Borzekowski, a public health professor at the University of Maryland and an adjunct professor at the Bloomberg School, told AFP.

'What that says to me is they are getting their messages through the community, in their environments. They are seeing it at retail establishments, they are seeing posters. When they go off to buy a piece of candy at a local store, they are seeing these logos.'

Increasingly, the tobacco industry has targeted low- and middle-income countries with aggressive marketing to lure new generations of smokers, particularly youth. An international treaty, the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, obligates countries to implement effective measures to reduce tobacco use, including comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and large, graphic health warnings on tobacco packs.

Tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of preventable death. If current trends continue, 250 million youth alive today will die from tobacco-related disease, and another 80,000 to 100,000 young people around the world become addicted each day. Countries must act now to implement effective measures that protect children and save lives, including comprehensive tobacco ad bans.