Global insurers have been urged to cease underwriting tobacco related risks as the World Health Organisation seeks a clampdown on the sale of such products to children and teenagers.
The call forms part of the WHO’s campaign to halt tobacco companies targeting young children.
The organisation has created a new kit which it will circulate to schools and other youth organisations across the world aimed at school students aged 13-17. It will be used to alert young people to the tobacco industry’s tactics used to hook them to addictive products.
“Every year the tobacco industry invests more than $9 billion to advertise its products,” said the WHO. “Increasingly, it is targeting young people with nicotine and tobacco products in a bid to replace the 8 million people that its products kill every year.”
This year’s WHO’s World No Tobacco Day campaign focuses on protecting children and young people from exploitation by the tobacco and related industry. The toolkit has a set of classroom activities including one that puts the students in the shoes of the tobacco industry to make them aware of how the industry tries to manipulate them into using deadly products. It also includes an educational video, myth-buster quiz, and homework assignments.
The toolkit also exposes tactics such as parties and concerts hosted by the tobacco and related industries, e-cigarette flavours that attract youth like bubble-gum and candy, e-cigarette representatives presenting in schools, and product placement in popular youth streaming shows.
Currently, over 40 million young people between the ages of 13 and 15 have already started to use tobacco.
WHO has called on all sectors of business and public services to help stop the marketing tactics of tobacco and related industries that prey on children and young people:
- Schools should refuse any form of sponsorship and prohibit representatives from nicotine and tobacco companies from speaking to students
- Celebrities and influencers should reject all offers of sponsorship
- Television and streaming services to stop showing tobacco or e-cigarette use on screen
- Social media platforms should ban the marketing of tobacco and related products and prohibit influencer marketing
- Governments and financial sector firms should divest from tobacco and related industries
- Governments ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
“Even during a global pandemic, the tobacco and nicotine industry persist by pushing products that limit people’s ability to fight coronavirus and recover from the disease,” said the WHO in a statement. “The industry has offered free branded masks and delivery to your door during quarantine and has lobbied for their products to be listed as ‘essential’.
“Smoking suffocates the lungs and other organs, starving them of oxygen when they need to develop and function properly.”
“Educating youth is vital because nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start before age 18. We want to provide young people with the knowledge to speak out against tobacco industry manipulation,” said Ruediger Krech, Director for Health Promotion at WHO.