World No Tobacco Day: 31 May 2008: Tobacco-free Youth is the theme

World No Tobacco Day 2008


[To read this posting in Hindi language, please click here]

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. It is the only consumer product that kills when used as intended by its manufacturers. Tobacco kills up to 50% of its regular users.

Approximately one billion young people live in the world today with 85% living in developing countries. Having survived the vulnerable childhood period, they are generally healthy. Nevertheless, tobacco use is contributing to the deadly mix that is changing the classic picture of healthy youth in the world.

Adolescent experimentation with this highly addictive product, aggressively pushed by the tobacco industry, can easily lead to a lifetime of tobacco dependence.

One of the most effective ways to protect young people from the harms of tobacco use is to ban advertising or promotion of tobacco products, and the sponsorship by the tobacco industry of any events or activities.

The focus

This year's campaign will focus on the following main message:

Tobacco marketing hooks young people to a product, tobacco, that kills up to half of its users. Complete bans on all forms of direct and indirect advertising, including sponsorship, are highly effective in protecting youth from initiating tobacco use.

Exposure to pro-tobacco advertisements, promotion and sponsorship as well as accessibility, availability, favorable prices and social acceptance of tobacco products play a crucial role in experimentation and transition to regular consumer. Tobacco promotional activities are causally related to the onset of tobacco use in adolescents and exposure to tobacco products advertising is predictive of consumption among youth.

The tobacco industry spends tens of billions of dollars worldwide annually in marketing their deadly products. Their marketing activities are intended to bring new, young, and hopefully life-long tobacco users into the market in order to replace those who die.

Forms of direct tobacco promotion include: radio; television; magazines; banners, posters and hoardings; direct mail; coupons; sweepstake offers; brand loyalty programs; sponsorship of specialized entertainment events in popular youth locations such as bars and clubs; and controlled circulation magazines distributed to those on the tobacco industry's large mailing list.

A call for action

Only 5% of the world's population currently lives in countries with comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. About half the children of the world live in countries that do not ban free distribution of tobacco products. One of the most effective ways countries can protect the health of their people is to ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Only total and comprehensive bans can reduce tobacco consumption. National-level studies before and after advertising bans found a decline in tobacco consumption of up to 16%. Partial bans have little or no impact on demand since advertising can be switched to alternative media.


Call to policy-makers: to require by law comprehensive bans on all direct and indirect forms of advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products. Policy-makers should be aware that voluntary policies do not work and are not an acceptable response to protecting the public, especially youth, from industry marketing tactics. Policy-makers should also be aware that the epidemic strikes hardest in developing countries, where more than two-third of the world's tobacco users live. To the tobacco companies, these economies represent vast new marketplaces in which they can promote their deadly products and seek "replacement smokers" among youth.

Call to the public: the campaign also aims at raising awareness of and encouraging people (youth, parents and organizations advocating for youth) to require policy-makers to ban advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products.

Background on marketing strategies

The spotlight of World No Tobacco Day 2008 will be on the publicity component of the following marketing strategies which encompasses advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Marketing mix strategies include:

publicity options e.g. media placements and themes; advertisements in videogames and on toys and other games; brand stretching; promotions using brand images or artists consuming tobacco on stage; portrayal of tobacco use and brand images in soap-operas or films; and sponsorship of sporting and other events to communicate the product "function" and characteristics to young people

placement opportunities e.g. free access shelves; Internet sales; vending machines; and innovative shop displays developed specifically to appeal to new young smokers and make tobacco products accessible

packaging and product features e.g. use of misleading and deceptive terms such as "light", "low-tar", and "mild"; promoting different tastes and flavors such as candy-flavored cigarettes; and pack size, color, design and brand name designed to make the product more appealing to youth

price alternatives purchase incentives such as multi-pack discounts; sales of cigarettes in small 'kiddy packs' to make the product affordable to young people.

With millions of their customers either dying from tobacco-related illnesses or quitting each year, the tobacco industry needs to recruit thousands of new smokers each day. These new customers are drawn overwhelmingly from the ranks of teenagers that the industry targets through their marketing strategies.

The rise in tobacco use among young females in high-population countries is one of the most ominous potential developments of the epidemic's growth. In many countries, women have traditionally not used tobacco: women smoke at about one fourth the rate of men. Because most women currently do not use tobacco, the tobacco industry aggressively market to tap this potential new market.

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[To read this posting in Hindi language, please click here]