Breaking the Net

Fact sheet
30 May 2008

  • The earlier youngsters are trapped in the marketing net of the tobacco industry, the more difficult it is for them to quit. Approximately half a billion [1] children and youth aged 6-23 years old are targeted for tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship events in the Western Pacific
  • The tobacco industry uses its marketing net to target youth in fun and familiar environments - at the movies, on the internet, in fashion magazines, music concerts and sports events.
  • Personal items such as wallets, t-shirts, jackets, bags, pants, scarves and key chains are being sold with tobacco brands and are associated with images of glamour, fashion and fun.
  • Cigarettes for youth may come in packaging that is associated with candy despite their harmful content: bright pink, mint green, yellow or baby blue. Cigarettes are manufactured in different flavors: peach, mint, coconut, watermelon, cappuccino, lime, lemon, chocolate and strawberry.
  • The words "lite", "low-tar" and "mild" are put on packages to trick youngsters into thinking that the product is not harmful.
  • The more exposed to advertising young people are, the more likely they are to use tobacco.

    - The key marketing strategy is to falsely associate tobacco with glamour, energy and sex appeal as well as with exciting activities and adventure.
  • Findings from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) during the period 2000-2007 of students aged 13-15 years show high levels of exposure to advertising, promotion and sponsorship with approximately 55% stating that they have seen pro-tobacco advertising on billboards and almost 70% have seen it on newspapers and magazines. [3] 12.7% own an object that has a cigarette brand logo. [4]
  • Environments that promote and enable smoking are a reason for concern. The GYTS data also shows that 64.1% are exposed to smoke in public places and 50.6% are exposed to cigarette smoke from others at home. [5] In Papua New Guinea, 86.4% are exposed to tobacco smoke in public places [6] and in Tuvalu, 76.6% are exposed to second hand smoke at home. [7] Five out of 10 will not be refused purchase because of their age when buying cigarettes in a store. [8]
  • Data on prevalence rates is limited, but among countries covered by the GYTS some 13.4% youth currently smoke cigarettes (18.5% of boys and 8.4% of girls). [9] 6.6% currently use tobacco products other than cigarettes (7.2% of boys and 6.1% of girls). [10]
  • One out of 5 boys smokes cigarettes. In Papua New Guinea, one out of two boys smokes. In Cook Islands, one out of two girls smokes. In the Philippines, one out of four boys smokes cigarettes. And one out of three boys smokes cigarettes in Malaysia, Micronesia, the Federated States of Micronesia and Tuvalu. [11]
  • In China, tobacco use ranged from a high of 14.6% in Chongqing to a low of 6.1% in Shanghai and Tianjin. Boys were significantly more likely than girls to use tobacco in every site, except Shanghai. [12]
  • The good news is that young people know that smoking is harmful to health and is no longer acceptable. One out of two students aged 13-15 years has been taught about the dangers of smoking. [13] Eight of 10 youth favor a ban on smoking in public places. [14] Eighty one percent desired to stop smoking, the highest amongst the WHO 6 regions. [15]
  • The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control calls for a complete ban on advertising, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products. This is the only way to break the marketing net of a harmful and dangerous product that deliberately plays on the vulnerability of youth.
  • Tobacco use is the second major cause of death in the world. Unless urgent action is taken it is estimated that during the 21st century it could kill one billion people. Eighty percent of these deaths will occur in developing countries. One third of the world's smokers reside in the Western Pacific Region where it is estimated that two people die every minute from a tobacco-related disease. Compared with other WHO regions, the Western Pacific has the greatest number of smokers, among the highest rates of male smoking prevalence, and the fastest increase of tobacco use uptake by women and young people.

References

[1] Table 3a: Population by School Age Group and Country 2005-2010. Library and Information Sources. Regional Databases. Demographic Tables. World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific. [Available at http://www.wpro.who.intdocs/school_age_8455.pdf]

[2] World Health Organization (WHO) World No Tobacco Day 31 May 2008 Brochure. [Available at www.who.int/tobacco/wntd]

[3] PowerPoint Presentation on Global Youth Tobacco Survey. Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. [Available at http://www.globalforumhealth.org/forum7/CDRomForum7/thursday/TobaccoWarren.ppt]

[4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] Global Youth Tobacco Surveillance, 2000-2007. Refer to Table 5. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. [Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5701a1.htm]

[12] [13] [14] Data from Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted in 7 sites in China of students aged 13-15 years in 1999 or 2004. Each site conducted independent, representative samples of students from schools in each site. Available on request from Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

[15] Global Youth Tobacco Surveillance, 2000-2007. Refer to Table 5. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. [Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5701a1.htm]

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