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Protect Youth From Tobacco Marketing

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, an annual awareness day sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1987 to draw worldwide attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. This year's theme focuses on global tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. Tobacco companies market their products with messages and offers that often appeal to youth. World No Tobacco Day is a good time to work towards further protecting youth from tobacco industry marketing so they can avoid the negative health consequences caused by tobacco use.

Tobacco Companies Spend Billions to Make Their Products Attractive and More Affordable

Photo: A teen girl readingTobacco companies spend more than $900,000 an hour in this country alone to market their products. Tobacco product advertising and promotions entice far too many young people to start using tobacco.

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start smoking by age 18, and more than 80% of underage smokers choose brands from among the top three most heavily advertised.
  • The more young people are exposed to cigarette advertising and promotional activities, the more likely they are to smoke.
  • Extensive use of price-reducing promotions by tobacco companies has led to higher rates of tobacco use among young people than would have occurred in the absence of these promotions.
  • Many tobacco products on the market appeal to youth. Some cigarette-sized cigars contain candy and fruit flavoring, such as strawberry and grape.
  • Many of the newest smokeless tobacco products do not require users to spit, and others dissolve like mints; these products include snus—a spitless, dry snuff packaged in a small teabag-like sachet—and dissolvable strips and lozenges. However, these products can cause and sustain nicotine addiction. Most youth who use them also smoke cigarettes.

There Are Ways to Counter Tobacco Marketing in the Community

Prevention is critical. If young people don't start using tobacco by age 26, they almost certainly will never start. The good news is that there are many things we can do to help keep teens and young adults tobacco-free. We can:

  • Photo: No smoking signsCreate a world where seeing people smoke or use other tobacco products is the exception, not the norm—for example, through policies that prohibit smoking in enclosed spaces.
  • Take steps that make it harder for youth to access tobacco products, such as raising cigarette prices and enforcing laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco products to children.
  • Further limit tobacco marketing that is likely to be seen by young people.
  • Limit youth exposure to smoking in movies and other media.
  • Educate young people and help them make healthy choices—for example, through public education media campaigns.

There Are Ways to Counter Tobacco Marketing at Home

You can proactively help youth make informed decisions should they ever be approached by others regarding tobacco use. Try the following tips.

Tell them:

  • Photo: A mother and her teen children talking with their healthcare professional.Key facts about tobacco.
  • You don't want anyone—including them—to use tobacco in your house or car.
  • You expect they will never use tobacco or will stop using it.

Help them:

Make sure you:

  • Photo: Teen girls talkingKnow what they're doing and who their friends are. Adolescents and young adults are very susceptible to social influences. What their peers do—and especially what the leaders of social groups do—can exert a strong influence on what they do. Young people whose friends smoke are much more likely to smoke as well.
  • Network with other parents who can help you encourage children and teens to refuse tobacco.
  • Encourage your children's schools to enforce tobacco-free policies for students, faculty, staff, and visitors, both on campus and at all school-sponsored events off campus.
  • Enforce movie age restrictions—and discourage teens from playing video games or using other media that feature smoking.
  • Never give tobacco to children or teens.
  • Set a good example by not using tobacco yourself. Quitting resources and assistance are available by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or by visiting www.cdc.gov/tips. Spanish-language quitting resources are available at www.cdc.gov/consejos.

More Information

 

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  • Page last reviewed: May 24, 2013
  • Page last updated: May 24, 2013
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