Group sounds alarm over e-cigarette addiction among youth

THE Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) on Saturday, May 30, sounded the alarm over the strong possibility of more and more youths getting hooked and addicted to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and heated tobacco products (HTPs).

In a statement on the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day 2020, SEATCA executive director Ulysses Dorotheo said a recent study showed that the youth are becoming more exposed to e-cigarettes and HTPs.

"The latest Global Youth Tobacco Surveys (GYTS) show increasing youth exposure and use of e-cigarettes and HTPs in many countries," said Dorotheo.

"Millions of Asean youths are at risk of being addicted to new tobacco products," he added.

Foremost reason, he said, is the tobacco industry's shift in marketing strategies by targeting the new generation.

“Like they did with cigarettes, the tobacco industry is targeting youths with the slick advertising, flavors, and technology of e-cigarettes,” noted Dorotheo.

He noted how such products are being promoted as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes, similar to how tobacco companies promoted cigarette filters and “light” or “low tar” cigarettes in the past.

E-cigarettes and HTPs are also being marketed with thousands of youth-appealing fruity and candy flavors in a bid to reduce the perception of harm, he added.

Companies are also promoting e-cigarettes with youth-appealing themes, such as having fun, success, and sensuality; while using different Internet platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

The SEATCA called on national governments to come up with effective e-cigarette control measures if they are to prevent new generations of nicotine addicts.

This includes banning all forms of advertising and promotions, including at point-of-sale and cross-border advertising, of e-cigarettes and HTPs.

"We recommend banning new tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes and HTPs, while working to phase out the sale of current tobacco products,” said Dorotheo. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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