World No Tobacco Day Empowers Youth… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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World No Tobacco Day Empowers Youth to Stand Up to Big Tobacco

Statement of Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
May 31, 2024

Washington, D.C. – On this World No Tobacco Day, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids joins the World Health Organization (WHO) and youth around the world in urging governments to protect young people from the deadly tactics of the world’s largest tobacco companies.

Celebrated annually on May 31, World No Tobacco Day serves as a reminder that tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of preventable death and that more must be done to curb this alarming public health epidemic. Now more than ever, tobacco companies are targeting young people with flashy products in kid-friendly flavors and with aggressive marketing campaigns overtaking platforms like Facebook, TikTok and Instagram. 

According to the WHO, children are using e-cigarettes at rates higher than adults in all regions and an estimated 37 million young people aged 13-15 use tobacco. These trends must not continue – and governments around the world must use every tool at their disposal to protect youth. 

Our recent report, #SponsoredByBigTobacco, uncovered the alarming tactics used online by tobacco giants like Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco. The report found that social media content promoting addictive products sold by these two tobacco giants has been viewed more than 3.4 billion times on social media and more than 40 percent of the audience viewing this content is under the age of 25.

The good news is that young people are using their voices to call on their governments to stop Big Tobacco’s targeting of youth. Our Young Ambassadors for Tobacco Control Program ensures long-term sustainability in the global tobacco control movement by activating a new generation of public health champions that is holding the tobacco industry accountable and fighting for a healthier world. 

In February of this year, 183 Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) adopted new guidelines that call on Parties to curb tobacco industry advertising on social media. It is urgent the governments implement these guidelines and take swift and immediate action to cut off Big Tobacco’s access to youth around the world.