Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. It is the only legal consumer product that kills one third to one half of those who use it as intended by its manufacturers, with its victims dying on average 15 years prematurely.

Approximately 1.8 billion young people (aged 10-24) live in our world today with more than 85% found in developing countries. Having survived the vulnerable childhood period, these young people are generally healthy.

However, as the tobacco industry intensifies its efforts to hook new, young and potentially life-long tobacco users, the health of a significant percentage of the world's youth is seriously threatened by their deadly products.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and child and adolescent experimentation can easily lead to a lifetime of tobacco dependence.


The Focus

Globally, most people start smoking before the age of 18, and almost a quarter of these individuals begin using tobacco before the age of 10. The younger children are when they first try smoking, the more likely they are to become regular tobacco users and the less likely they are to quit.

It is clearly proven that exposure to direct and indirect pro-tobacco advertising, together with other marketing strategies used by the tobacco industry, leads to an increase in experimentation by young people and, in turn, to the very real risk of their becoming regular users of tobacco products. The tobacco industry spends tens of billions of dollars worldwide every year to effectively market its products in as many ways as possible.

In response to this threat to young people, this year's World No Tobacco Day campaign focuses on the following main message:

One of the most effective ways countries can protect young people from experimenting and becoming regular tobacco users is to ban all forms of direct and indirect tobacco advertising, including promotion of tobacco products and sponsorship, by the tobacco industry, of any events or activities.



• Because about half the children of the world live in countries that do not ban free distribution of tobacco products to them.

• Because only total and comprehensive bans can be effective in reducing tobacco consumption.

• Because national-level studies before and after advertising bans found a decline in tobacco consumption of up to 16%.

• Because partial bans have little or no impact on demand since advertising can be switched to alternative media.

Direct and indirect tobacco advertising is conducted in numerous ways via: television; radio; Internet; magazines; banners, posters and hoardings; direct mail; coupons; sweepstake offers; brand stretching; brand loyalty programs; sponsorship of sports; 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


Call to policy-makers:

* Require by law a comprehensive ban on all forms of advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products. Be aware that voluntary policies do not work and are not an acceptable response to protecting the public, especially youth, from tobacco industry marketing tactics;

* Implement policies and programmes that do not target youth in isolation. Interventions that target the population as a whole, such as banning all forms of tobacco advertising, raising tobacco taxes, and creating 100% smoke-free environments have the greatest success in reducing youth tobacco use.

Call to young people:

* Let the policy-makers of your country know what you think. Advocate for a total ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products in your country.

* Get involved in a campaign to educate your peers on how the tobacco industry uses advertising, promotion and sponsorship to persuade you to smoke or use other forms of tobacco. Let the industry know you won't be duped by its slick, expensive promotional efforts.

Call to NGOs:

* Advocate to policy-makers for a complete ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products in your country.

* Help organize youth groups so they can be part of the campaign and engage in the conception, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of tobacco control policies and programmes to ban advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products.

Call to the public:

* Call on policy-makers to ban advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products to protect young people.

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