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May-30-2008 16:17printcomments

UN Seeks Total Ban on Tobacco Advertising to Protect Kids

They say advertising is becoming more aggressive in the developing world, where bans on tobacco marketing are less likely.

Small child smoking
Photo courtesy: United Nations

(GENEVA) - The United Nations health agency today called on governments to impose a ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship to deter young people around the world from taking up smoking.

The number of children who stand to be affected and impacted by tobacco ads in countries with few regulations is staggering.

A day ahead of World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing its campaign this year on the young, citing statistics that show most people start smoking before the age of 18 – and some are hooked by the time they turn 10.

“The tobacco industry employs predatory marketing strategies to get young people hooked to their addictive drug,” said Douglas Bettcher, Director of the agency’s Tobacco Free Initiative.

“But comprehensive advertising bans do work, reducing tobacco consumption by up to 16 per cent in countries that have already taken this legislative step.”

The tobacco industry has a well established reputation for skirting laws and rules and they are the only industry that makes billions selling products that in the larger picture, do absolutely nothing except lead people to sickness and death. For decades, the companies that appear responsible by law in the United States show themselves very differently in third world and underdeveloped countries, including Mexico.

Dr. Bettcher said only a total ban was acceptable because “when one form of advertising is banned, the tobacco industry simply shifts its vast resources to another channel,” such as the movies, the Internet, fashion magazines or music and sports venues.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan described this industry strategy as “a complex ‘tobacco marketing net’ that ensnares millions of young people worldwide, with potentially devastating health consequences.”

Recent studies have indicated that the more young people are exposed to tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to take up smoking, according to WHO.

A global survey found that over half of 13- to 15-yearolds reported seeing billboard advertisements for cigarettes in the past month.

Advertising is becoming more aggressive in the developing world, where bans on tobacco marketing are less likely. Around the world, girls and young women are also an increasing target of the industry.

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Julie May 31, 2008 4:56 pm (Pacific time)

Go get em! Too bad it takes the strength of the UN, instead of just plain old common sense and a small amount of intelligence. I wish all Americans could see the behavior of "our" tobacco companies in other countries. Hooking young kids is a deliberate intention, and they don't even get their hands slapped for this CHILD ABUSE. It wouldn't fly in the U.S., but kids in other lands aren't as important to our lawmakers. Sad. It just proves our politicians to be talking heads, and too shallow to have true ethics and LOVE for their neighbors. So, thank you U.N., for doing what we don't have the spine to do ourselves.

Henry Ruark May 31, 2008 8:32 am (Pacific time)

To all: Big Tobacco is the ONLY corporate entity allowed to sell a proven poison leading surely to death for the user, and to devastating costs for all of us in assisting those afflicted by tobacco addiction. Greed is the only possible motivation for anyone in any way connected to the naturally devastating product, marketed for centuries by many devious means. After devastating legal struggle in the U.S., Big-T settled the now world-famed Mississipi-Medicaid case in July 1997 for four billion dollars. Eventually Big-T settled with attorneys/general across the nation for $246 BILLION, to be paid over 25 years, to win freedom from further state lawsuits. For intriguing further details on the attorney who won the case --and on the strategy-involved-- see The New Yorker (5/19/08:A Reporter At Large: The Bribe. by Peter J. Boyer. Unfortunately that attorney himself succumbed to greed in later, further legal attack. Oregon has shared in the legal bounty resulting from his earlier efforts.

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