Wednesday, 17 April, 2024
HomeHarm ReductionTobacco firms aggressively targeting youth – SAMRC

Tobacco firms aggressively targeting youth – SAMRC

Tobacco companies are aggressively honing in on youngsters, with a recent report showing a quarter of the students interviewed at tertiary institutions used e-cigarettes, says the South African Medical Research Council, calling for measures to protect young people against the dangers of smoking.

A report by the SAMRC released last week showed that one in four students aged 18 to 24 was actively using e-cigarettes, while almost 40% reported having used them, reports The Sunday Tribune.

The research focused on students’ exposure to e-cigarette and hookah advertising and marketing around university campuses and other venues, exploring the association between the prevalence of product use, the students’ knowledge, attitudes and perceptions, and their exposure to marketing.

According to the research, almost one in three students aged 18 to 24 had smoked a hookah, while about 47% reported having done so. Overall, 77.8% had been exposed to advertising, marketing and promotion of e-cigarettes.

The SAMRC’s Dr Catherine Egbe cited this as an indication of how the tobacco and nicotine industries have taken aim at young people, using the most aggressive marketing campaigns to lure the youth so as to create the next market as the older generation dies out.

She accused the big companies of presenting e-cigarettes as more trendy, saying this led to a significant number of young people taking up e-cigarettes, which were made “to be less harmful than smoking”.

“When a quarter of the student population on campus is smoking e-cigarettes and more than 70% are exposed to cigarette advertising, we should all be worried,” she said.

Another related study carried out by the South African Tobacco-free Youth Forum (SATFYF) showed that pupils at both primary and secondary schools were being targeted.

The research focused on 409 point-of-sales locations within a 300m radius of primary and secondary schools in six major cities – Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria and Stellenbosch – and found that the 92% of these points of sale sold cigarettes, with 68.2% of the displays targeting the eye level of a child.

The research results come as the Health Portfolio Committee continues with public hearings on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill.

Egbe said the passing of the new Bill was crucial to the well-being of young people who had fallen prey to e-smoking because of marketing tactics by the cigarette and nicotine industry.

Responding to charges that the industry was targeting young people, Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) CEO Asanda Gcoyi said this was part of the “dominant misinformation” which they wanted to dispel.

“VPASA is against the sale of vapour products to underage users. We have repeatedly expressed our will to comply with the authorities on this issue,” she said.

Gcoyi cited a vaping Code of Conduct that urges responsible advertising for all members – and insisted that young people were not the target market.

She appealed for an open mind when making inputs on the Bill, and argued that in its current form it was problematic.

The hearings were due to be held in KZN next week, but the Health Portfolio Committee said they had been postponed to a date yet to be announced.



Sunday Tribune PressReader article – Tobacco industry targeting youth (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


New vaping tax won’t put off youth, say experts


Vaping scourge among children prompts long-term health effects study


Vaping industry exploits SA’s policy gap, enticing more to young people to smoke


SA must consider best interests of children in regulating and controlling e-cigarettes


Alarming results from New Zealand’s biggest youth vaping survey 





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