Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Tobacco-Free Youth

Why does the tobacco industry need to catch teenagers and young adults?

  • For the tobacco industry to survive it must hook new customers to replace those who die or quit. It must catch them young.
  • Most people start smoking before the age of 18, and almost a quarter of these individuals begin using tobacco before the age of 10.
  • The younger children are when they first try smoking, the more likely they are to become regular tobacco users and the less likely they are to quit.

Why are tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship a threat to young people?

  • The more exposed to tobacco advertising young people are, the more likely they are to use tobacco. The tobacco industry falsely associates use of its products with desirable qualities such as glamour, energy and sex appeal as well as with exciting activities and adventure.
  • Widespread tobacco advertising “normalizes” tobacco use, portraying it as being no different from any other consumer product, and making it difficult for young people to understand the hazards of its use.
  • Young people underestimate the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine and the tragic health consequences that can follow.

Why do we need a total ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship?

  • The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars each year spreading its marketing net as widely as possible to attract young customers, targeting youth in fun and familiar environments, at the movies, on the Internet, in fashion magazines, and at music concerts and sports events.
  • The tobacco industry uses increasingly creative tactics to boost the sale of its products. Adverts on billboards, in magazines and on the Internet, comprise only one strand of the complex tobacco marketing net. The industry also ensures its products are highly visible in movies, on television and in the world of fashion. Tobacco companies sponsor sports and entertainment events, hand out branded items and organize numerous popular promotional activities in an attempt to win and keep their customers.
  • Only total bans can break the tobacco marketing net. The industry has numerous ways of targeting youth and partial bans merely allow companies to shift their vast resources from one promotional tactic to another.

Is the developing world’s youth particularly at risk? What about young women and girls?

  • More than 80 percent of the world’s 1.8 billion young people (aged 10-24) live in developing countries and they are aggressively targeted by the tobacco industry. Four out of five teenagers living in developing countries say they have recently seen pro-tobacco advertising.
  • The tobacco industry specifically targets young females through advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Carefully researched marketing strategies encourage girls and young women to use tobacco products and seek to weaken cultural opposition to this trend in countries where women have traditionally not used tobacco.
  • The rise in the use of tobacco products among girls and young females is one of the most ominous developments of the global tobacco epidemic.

Is a total advertising ban the only way to protect youth from tobacco use?

  • A ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is a powerful tool to protect youth and is one of the World Health Organization’s six MPOWER strategies that are designed to combat tobacco use, the leading preventable cause of death in the world today.
  • The six MPOWER strategies enable countries to protect their youth from an epidemic that could kill up to one billion people this century.