Call to ban all forms of tobacco advertising

May 29, 2013 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: On World No Tobacco Day, 31 May, WHO is calling for countries to ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship to help reduce the number of tobacco users? Tobacco use kills nearly 6 million people every year.

Bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship are one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco consumption, with countries that have already introduced bans showing an average of 7% reduction in tobacco consumption.

Research shows about one third of youth experimentation with tobacco occurs as a result of exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Worldwide, 78% of young people aged 13-15 years report regular exposure to some form of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

“Tobacco use ranks right at the very top of the list of universal threats to health yet is entirely preventable,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Governments must make it their top priority to stop the tobacco industry’s shameless manipulation of young people and women, in particular, to recruit the next generation of nicotine addicts.”

“Most tobacco users start their deadly drug dependence before the age 20”, says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Prevention of Non communicable Diseases department. “Banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is one of the best ways to protect young people from starting smoking as well as reducing tobacco consumption across the entire population.”

Dr Bettcher warns however that, even when bans are in place, the tobacco industry is constantly finding new tactics to target potential smokers that include handing out gifts and selling branded products such as clothing, in particular targeting young people; stealth marketing such as engaging trendsetters to influence people in places such as cafes and nightclubs; using online and new media, such as pro-smoking smart phone applications and online discussions led by tobacco company staff posing as consumers; placement of tobacco products and brands in films and television, including reality TV and soap operas; and corporate social responsibility activities such as making donations to charities.

WHO’s report on the global tobacco epidemic 2011 shows that only 19 countries (representing just 6% of the world’s population) have reached the highest level of achievement in banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship? More than one third of countries have minimal or no restrictions at all.

Countries that are making strong progress in banning the last remaining forms of advertising include Albania, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Iran, Mauritius, Panama and Vietnam.

WHO supports countries to meet their obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which requires Parties to introduce a comprehensive ban of all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship within five years of the entry into force of the WHO FCTC for that Party.

According to the “2012 Global Progress Report on Implementation of the WHO FCTC”, 83 countries have already reported that they have introduced a comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Countries that have banned displays of tobacco products at points of sale include Australia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Palau and Panama, with Australia also introducing plain packaging of tobacco products.

A recent survey on tobacco use in Turkey shows the ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship, combined with other tobacco-control measures, has contributed to cutting tobacco use by more than 13% – translating to 1.2 million fewer tobacco users – since 2008.