Bangkok/Manila, 29 May 2020: The tobacco industry is selling new products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) to create new generations of addicts. This was revealed by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) in a new report “Today’s teens, tomorrow’s customers: Baiting youths with new tobacco products to create a new generation of addicts” launched on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2020 with the theme ‘Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use’.
“Like they did with cigarettes, the tobacco industry is targeting youths with the slick advertising, flavors, and technology of e-cigarettes,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of SEATCA. “213 million ASEAN youths are at risk of being addicted to new tobacco products. The latest Global Youth Tobacco Surveys (GYTS) show increasing youth exposure and use of e-cigarettes and HTPs in many countries. Despite their lack of safety, these products are promoted as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes, reminiscent of how tobacco companies promoted cigarette filters and “light” or “low tar” cigarettes to give false reassurances to smokers that such innovations reduced their risks of health harms,” added Dorotheo.
This report details how the tobacco industry is aggressively promoting e-cigarettes with youth-appealing themes, such as having fun, success, and sensuality, and using different Internet platforms frequented by youths like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Vaping trick videos on mobile video sharing service TikTok are rampant, and local celebrities and social media influencers are used to promote e-cigarettes and HTPs. These products are also marketed with thousands of youth-appealing fruity and candy flavors that reduce the perception of harm.
Promotional “power walls” consisting of e-cigarette and HTP displays are very similar to conventional cigarette displays and are used to attract customers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and the Philippines where there is still no ban on cigarette retail displays. Additionally, e-commerce sites (Shopee and Lazada) facilitate the marketing and sales of these products.
“This COVID-19 pandemic is an excellent opportunity for quitting smoking and vaping. In contrast, tobacco companies are continuing to sell addiction, disease, and death with their products. Governments should seize this opportunity to prioritize public health over commercial and vested interests by accelerating their efforts to fully implement effective tobacco control measures in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), such as banning all tobacco advertising and promotions including at point-of-sale and cross-border advertising, banning the use of flavorings, and introducing standardized tobacco packaging with large pictorial health warnings. We also recommend banning new tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes and HTPs, while working to phase out the sale of current tobacco products,” added Dorotheo.
Five ASEAN countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Singapore and Thailand) are among the more than 40 countries that already ban the sale of e-cigarettes and/or HTPs. Others include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, East Timor, Kuwait, Taiwan, and Uruguay.
“Help us protect our youths by promoting #TheUnfilteredTruth, launched this #WorldNoTobaccoDay2020 to expose the tobacco and nicotine industry manipulation and filtering of research and other information over many years to maintain the nicotine addiction that keeps their business growing. The public deserves the truth about the tobacco industry and its lethal products. To know more about this campaign, visit www.seatca.org and www.facebook.com/SEATCA,” appealed Dorotheo.
- Today’s teens, tomorrow’s customers: Baiting youths with new tobacco products to create a new generation of addicts – https://seatca.org/dmdocuments/WNTD%202020%20report-SEATCA-Final.pdf
- #TheUnfilteredTruth Campaign – www.facebook.com/SEATCA
- WHO World No Tobacco Day 2020 – https://www.who.int/news-room/campaigns/world-no-tobacco-day/world-no-tobacco-day-2020
SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.