FOR decades, the tobacco industry has deliberately employed strategic, aggressive and well-resourced tactics to attract youth to tobacco and nicotine products. Internal industry documents reveal in-depth research and calculated approaches designed to attract a new generation of tobacco users, from product design to marketing campaigns aimed at replacing the millions of people who die each year from tobacco-attributable diseases with new consumers – youth.
In response to the tobacco and related industries’ systematic, aggressive and sustained tactics to attract a new generation of tobacco users, World No Tobacco Day 2020 will provide a counter-marketing campaign and empower young people to engage in the fight against Big Tobacco. This is especially important right now as studies show that smokers have a higher risk for a severe case of coronavirus. WHO calls on all young people to join the fight to become a tobacco-free generation.
The World No Tobacco Day 2020 global campaign will serve to:
• Debunk myths and expose manipulation tactics employed by the tobacco and related industries, particularly marketing tactics targeted at youth, including through the introduction of new and novel products, flavours and
other attractive features;
• Equip young people with knowledge about the tobacco and related industries’ intentions and tactics to hook current and future generations on tobacco and nicotine products; and
• Empower influencers (in pop culture, on social media, in the home, or in the classroom) to protect and defend youth and catalyze change by engaging them in the fight against Big Tobacco.
How are tobacco and related industries manipulating youth?
• Use of flavours that are attractive to youth in tobacco and nicotine products, like cherry, bubble gum and cotton candy, which encourages young people to underestimate the related health risks and to start using them
• Sleek designs and attractive products, which can also be easy to carry and are deceptive (e.g. products shaped like a USB stick or candy)
• Promotion of products as “reduced harm” or “cleaner” alternatives to conventional cigarettes in the absence of objective science substantiating these claims
• Celebrity/influencer sponsorships and brand sponsored contests to promote tobacco and nicotine products (e.g. Instagram influencers)
• Point-of-sale marketing at vendor outlets frequented by children, including positioning near sweets, snacks or soda and providing premiums for vendors to ensure their products are displayed near venues frequented by young people (includes providing marketing materials and display cases to retailers)
• Sale of single stick cigarettes and other tobacco and nicotine products near schools, which makes it cheap and easy for school children to access tobacco and nicotine products
• Indirect marketing of tobacco products in movies, TV shows and online streaming shows
• Tobacco vending machines at venues frequented by young people, covered in attractive advertising and pack displays, and undermining regulations on sales to minors
• Litigation to weaken all kinds of tobacco control regulations including warning labels, display at point of sale, and regulations that limit access and marketing to children (specifically provisions to ban the sale and advertising of tobacco products near schools)
Call to action
The world cannot afford another generation deceived by the lies of the tobacco industry, which pretends to promote freedom of personal choice while really ensuring eternal profits – regardless of the millions of people that pay with their life each year.
WHO urges influencers – in pop culture, on social media, in the home, or in the classroom – who reach and connect with youth to expose the industries’ manipulative tactics to create a new generation of tobacco users. We need to empower youth to stand up to Big Tobacco by dispelling its lies and refusing to use its products. (PR)