• June 15, 2024

Industry Still Targeting Children: WHO

 Industry Still Targeting Children: WHO
Photo: v-a-butenkov

Despite its talk about harm reduction, the tobacco industry is still targeting youth via social media, sports and music festivals and flavored products, according to the World Health Organization, reports Reuters.

In a joint report issued with STOP, an industry watchdog, the global health body alleged that tobacco companies’ alternative smoking products such as vapes are often marketed with designs and flavors that are appealing to young people.

“It’s dishonest to talk about harm reduction when they are marketing to children,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general.

The WHO pointed to flavors like bubblegum as a driver of youth vape use increases. The industry, however, argues that flavors are a key tool in helping adult smokers switch to less harmful alternatives. Most large companies have moved away from youth-appealing flavors.

The WHO says that companies use social media and sponsorship of music festivals and sports festivals to target youth, allowing the companies to promote their brands to younger audiences and to hand out free samples.

In addition, the WHO argues that there is insufficient evidence that vapes help smokers quit. Rather, the entity said that there is evidence vaping increases traditional cigarette use, especially among youth.

Sarah Jackson, principal research fellow at University College London’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, contradicted that view, however, saying that the WHO statements, “do not accurately reflect current evidence on e-cigarettes.”