Geneva, May 29 (IANS) The World Health Organisation (WHO) Wednesday called on nations to ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship to help reduce the number of tobacco users and keep young people from becoming addicted.
As the May 31 World No Tobacco Day approaches, Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases Department, said most tobacco users start their deadly drug dependence before the age of 20.
“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,” Xinhua quoted Bettcher as saying in a statement.
Research shows that about one-third of youth experiment with tobacco as a result of exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
Worldwide, 78 percent of young people aged 13 to 15 have reported regular exposure to some form of tobacco advertising, according to the WHO.
Bettcher said targeting “women and children in developing countries” was the “last frontier” of the tobacco industry.
He warned that the tobacco industry has been finding new tactics to target potential smokers, including handing out free cigarettes, using online and new media, and placement of tobacco products and brands in films and television.
“That is why the ban has to be complete in order to be fully effective,” he said.
The WHO’s report on the global tobacco epidemic in 2011 showed that only 19 countries have reached the highest level of achievement in banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, while more than one third of countries have minimal or no restrictions at all.
According to the “2012 Global Progress Report on Implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)”, 83 countries introduced a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
Currently, tobacco kills nearly six million people every year and the WHO estimated that the weed will kill more than eight million by 2030.