Youth urges governments: work with us to protect us from tobacco industry interference

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Meet your everyday heroes fighting against Big Tobacco and its tactics to create a new generation addicted to nicotine. On World No Tobacco Day, we can unite with these tobacco control champions as they battle the tobacco industry.

Bangkok, 31 May 2024: Today, World No Tobacco Day, youth leaders from around the world are calling on governments to act immediately and decisively to save another generation from being addicted to nicotine. 

At the Global Youth Voices Virtual Summit, youths all over the world strongly called on governments to make the tobacco industry pay for the harms it has caused to society. Similarly, at the recent ASEAN Workshop on Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference, Asian youth leaders reiterated the need for governments to work with the youth to effectively protect them from the tobacco industry. 

The tobacco industry is eager to replenish its customer base by addicting younger generations with its new products. In Asia and globally, the uptake of electronic smoking devices (ESDs) by young people is increasing rapidly. In Malaysia, the prevalence of e-cigarette use among teenagers (13-15 years old) is 23.5% for boys and 6.2% for girls (2022). In the Philippines, it is 20.9% for boys and 7.5% for girls (2019). In Thailand, 20.2% of boys and 15% of girls were using ESDs in 2022. 

The tobacco industry denies targeting the youth, but it makes ESDs available in trendy designs and more than 16,000 flavors, mostly candy and fruit flavors, while also using digital media to promote ESDs as lifestyle must-haves. The tobacco industry also spreads misinformation about ESDs, claiming that these devices can help smokers quit smoking cigarettes, even if scientific evidence proves otherwise.

Evidence from the Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2023 shows that the industry uses a wide range of tactics to normalize tobacco use and meddle with public health. These tactics include lobbying, political funding, creating alliances and front groups, funding research, engaging in so-called corporate social responsibility activities, litigation, smuggling, public relations, advertising, and marketing. 

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires governments to counter tobacco industry interference to protect present and future generations from tobacco harms. Measures include raising tobacco taxes, bans on all tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, and raising awareness about nicotine addiction and tobacco industry interference. 

“A truly healthy and sustainable future has no space for the tobacco industry and its harmful products. Governments must listen to the youth and work with them, harnessing their talents and passion as we fight this important battle for the health of all. Governments must stop listening to and engaging with the tobacco industry and its front groups, as we strive to build a tobacco-free future for our children and teens,” explained SEATCA Executive Director Dr Ulysses Dorotheo. 

Contact Information: 

Val Bugnot, Media and Communications Manager, SEATCA 
Email: val@seatca.org
Mobile: +63917312460

About SEATCA

SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control 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. SEATCA is an accredited ASEAN entity and an official Observer to the WHO FCTC Conference of Parties.