Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 75

Today (31st May) is World No Tobacco Day: The tobacco industry needs children to replace the sick, the dying and those that have stopped smoking -

By Manjari Peiris
Colombo, 31 May, (

The denial of children's rights is at the heart of the tobacco industry's interference in health policies, says, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

Big Tobacco (composed of the five largest tobacco companies) controls 80% of the global market, and mergers and acquisitions have solidified interference on an industrial scale.

Driven by shareholder demand for profits, the industry needs children to replace the sick, the dying and those that have stopped smoking. With no apparent intention of ending their marketing of addictive, lethal products, which kill 8 million people a year, the industry is aggressively releasing new products and using front groups, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and philanthropy to disrupt tobacco control.

The industry presents itself as caring about children and positions itself as part of the solution, not the problem. For this review, searches were conducted between 2015 and 2019 for articles in English referring to tobacco industry tactics that harm child health rights.

A narrative synthesis was used to combine the evidence and author's experience in industry reporting.

The analysis reveals that the tobacco industry delays interventions to protect children by expanding its use of allied front groups, flooding markets with novel products and disrupting tobacco control policies.

To combat this approach, stakeholders in health need to reclaim the child health agenda. A variety of existing mechanisms can be used to develop more integrated and policy coherent reporting processes for protecting current and future generations of children.

Continuing a long tradition of designing products that appeal explicitly to new users, tobacco companies in recent years have significantly stepped up the introduction and marketing of flavored other tobacco products (OTPs), particularly e-cigarettes and cigars, as well as smokeless tobacco and hookah.

With their colorful packaging and sweet flavors, today’s flavored tobacco products are often hard to distinguish from the candy displays near which they are frequently placed in retail outlets.

Although the tobacco industry claims to be responding to adult tobacco users’ demand for variety, flavored tobacco products play a key role in enticing new users, particularly kids, to a lifetime of addiction.

This growing market for flavored tobacco products is undermining the world’s overall progress in reducing youth tobacco use.

Flavored tobacco products are on the rise, tobacco industry markets products in many kid-friendly flavors such as gummy bear, berry blend, chocolate, peach, cotton candy, strawberry, and grape, and more seem inevitable. “Candy-flavored” is, in fact, an appropriate way to describe these products since a recent chemical analysis has shown that the same flavor chemicals used in sweet-flavored cigars of various sizes and smokeless tobacco products are also used in popular candy and drink products.

A 2013 survey of internet tobacco retailers found that more than 40% of cigarette-sized cigars, machine made cigars, moist snuff, and dry snuff tobacco products were flavored, including fruit, sweet, and mint/menthol.

Historically, cigar manufacturers designed flavored cigars to serve as “starter” smokes for youth and young adults because the flavorings helped mask the harshness, making the products easier to smoke.

An industry publication stated, “While different cigars target a variety of markets, all flavored tobacco products tend to appeal primarily to younger consumers.”

These products are often colorfully packaged and much cheaper than cigarettes by making them even more appealing to price-sensitive youth.

There has been an explosive growth in flavor options for cigars, such as candy, fruit, chocolate, and various other kid-attracting tastes.

Flavored cigars have made a substantial contribution to the overall growth of the cigar market.

The 2016 US Surgeon General's Report on e-cigarettes concluded that, “E-cigarettes are marketed by promoting flavors and using a wide variety of media channels and approaches that have been used in the past for marketing conventional tobacco products to youth and young adults.”

As of 2017, researchers had identified more than 15,500 unique e-cigarette flavors available online.
An earlier study of e-cigarette flavors found that among the more than 400 brands available online in 2014, 84% offered fruit flavors and 80% offered candy and dessert flavors.

In addition to the more traditional candy and fruit flavors like cherry and chocolate, the liquid nicotine solutions are also being sold in such kid-friendly options as cotton candy, root beer float, and banana split. One study even uncovered over twenty different types of unicorn-flavored e-liquid, often paired with cartoon imagery, undoubtedly appealing to kids.

The American Lung Association states that cigarette smoking during childhood and adolescence causes significant health problems among young people, including an increase in the number and severity of respiratory illnesses, decreased physical fitness and potential effects on lung growth and function.

Most importantly, this is when an addiction to smoking takes hold, often lasting into and sometimes throughout adulthood. Among adults who have ever smoked daily, 87% had tried their first cigarette by the time they were 18 years of age, and 95% had by age 21.

Key Facts about Tobacco Use among Children and Teenagers are;

• Every day, almost 2,500 children under 18 years of age try their first cigarette, and more than 400 of them will become new, regular daily smokers. Half of them will ultimately die from their habit.

* People who start smoking at an early age are more likely to develop a severe addiction to nicotine than those who start at a later age. Of adolescents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, most of them report that they would like to quit, but are not able to do so.

• If current tobacco use patterns persist, an estimated 5.6 million of today’s youth under age 18 eventually will die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.

Menthol cigarette use is more common among younger and newer teen smokers. This is due to young smokers perceiving menthol cigarettes as less harsh and easier to smoke.

One study found that teens exposed to the greatest amount of smoking in movies were 2.6 times more likely to start smoking themselves compared with teens who watched the least amount of smoking in movies.

Stay Safe, Stay at Home, Stay Informed, But Don't Forget to Wash Your Hands.

- Asia Tribune -

Today (31st May)  is World No Tobacco Day: The tobacco industry needs children to replace the sick, the dying and those that have stopped smoking -
Today (31st May)  is World No Tobacco Day: The tobacco industry needs children to replace the sick, the dying and those that have stopped smoking -
Today (31st May)  is World No Tobacco Day: The tobacco industry needs children to replace the sick, the dying and those that have stopped smoking -
diconary view
Share this