Tobacco and youth
In order to reduce youth tobacco use, a range of measures will be necessary. One key strategy will be to denormalize tobacco use in the general population. In countries around the world, the tobacco industry has systematically fought against or watered down measures that have been proven to reduce tobacco use among youths and the general population, such as increasing tobacco taxes, implementing smoke-free policies and banning all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. In their place, it has persuaded governments to implement ineffective programmes, including those that have been shown to actually increase tobacco use among youth, namely tobacco industry sponsored Youth Smoking Prevention (YSP) programmes. Thus, it is important that governments put in place evidence-based policies as contained in the MPOWER package.
Although there is a prevalent belief that providing effective warnings to youths requires approaches different from those used for adults, broad educational efforts that reach all age groups have been shown to be more effective in influencing youth behaviour than efforts targeted specifically at them. Anti-tobacco programmes directed at children to keep them from starting tobacco use are politically popular and have broad public appeal but do not contribute substantially to reducing youth smoking experimentation or initiation when conducted as part of health education classes in schools. Focusing anti-tobacco educational initiatives on children could also weaken a more comprehensive population-wide approach that would have a greater long-term impact.