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GENEVA, Switzerland – The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for countries across the globe to ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in association with World No Tobacco Day, which took place on May 31, according to a Voice of America report. A total marketing blackout could reduce tobacco use and save lives, the WHO stated.
According to Douglas Bettcher, director of WHO's prevention of non-communicable diseases department, these tobacco marketing efforts are one of the most effective ways to get people hooked on smoking, and the tobacco industry is increasingly targeting poorer countries as smoking rates fall in richer ones.
"Research shows very clearly that one-third of youth experimentation with tobacco occurs as a result of exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship," Bettcher said. "Worldwide, 70 percent of young people aged 13 to 15 report regular exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship."
Bettcher noted that most tobacco users start smoking before the age of 20, making a ban a cost-effective, anti-smoking tool. But he said tobacco industry marketing strategists often create new promotional campaigns that circumvent the proposed restrictions.
WHO data shows that 19 countries, comprising 6 percent of the world's population, have already imposed complete bans on tobacco advertising. The organization also noted that while the number of smokers worldwide has dropped, anti-smoking control measures are most effective in countries where advertising bans are fully implemented.
The World Health Organization is the public health arm of the United Nations.