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Issue #1554      4 July 2012

Tobacco promotion still catching youth

A new survey has shown that pervasive promotion by the industry is still reaching children through films, TV, the internet and video games - despite federal and state moves to end tobacco advertising.

The survey of 1,000 NSW adolescents and young adults aged 12-24 by the Cancer Institute NSW is the first of its kind in Australia. It shows a third of these young people report seeing tobacco promotions or advertising in venues such as pubs, nightclubs and bars.

Says Professor David Currow, Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW:
“Adolescents and young people are the most vulnerable to the tobacco industry’s suggestive messages, and we cannot ignore the devastating health consequences of taking up this addictive habit so young.”

Adds Stafford Sanders, co-ordinator of the Protecting Children from Tobacco coalition of 43 organisations: “This raises serious concerns about marketing tactics in venues or through media that may go unnoticed or under the radar of current regulations.

“It suggests governments need to go further to reduce children’s exposure to smoking in public venues and events, and promotion of smoking in media, including the internet.

“Continued smoking promotion to youth is undermining government strategies to reduce and de-normalise smoking. Of the young people who take up smoking, half will die from tobacco-related diseases.”

The Cancer Institute NSW Tobacco Promotion Impact Study in BMC Public Health reveals:

  • The place most young people see people smoking or its promotion is in movies (77% of the respondents), followed by TV (68%), in licensed venues (31%), internet (26%), video games (23%) and events (23%). Except for licensed venues, these figures are even higher for under-18s.
  • The tobacco industry has adapted to stricter regulation by diverting resources to non-traditional promotional channels; but smoking depiction in films/TV, magazines and events is still significant.
  • Adolescents are especially at risk of exposure to “below the line” tobacco advertising and promotions that are reaching this vulnerable age group.

Action on Smoking and Health, Australia  

Next article – The “use-and-throw-away” workers (Part 1)

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