World Health Organization: “We must protect youth from tobacco companies’ manipulations”
51% of all smokers ages 18-24 are considering quitting smoking due to the virus, while 49.2% of this age group report smoking less. 31% of the subjects in the Arab society report that someone in their family took up smoking during the pandemic, compared to 8% amongst the Jewish society.
22.1% of the Jewish smokers report that they smoked at home during the lockdown period, compared to 38.8% in the Arab sector.
61% of the smokers report that they did not smoke at home during the lockdown period, but smoked on the balcony and/or the backyard and/or in the car (see additional data below).
On May 31, the Israel Cancer Association, alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) globally, marked World No Tobacco Day, promoting the campaign against smoking.
This day aims emphasize the health risks related to smoking tobacco and nicotine and the effective regulatory measures to reduce the number of smokers. This year, the WHO is focusing on protecting youth against the manipulations carried out by the tobacco and nicotine industries.
Miri Ziv, the ICA Vice Chairman: “Over the years, the manipulative strategy and aggressive marketing by the tobacco and nicotine industry were aimed at continuing to recruit youth and young adults to the smoking population. The public in Israel must be protected against the financial interests of the tobacco industry and maintain its basic right to health. Policymakers must provide tools that have been proven effective in fighting the smoking epidemic and act to implement effective, rigorous enforcement such as raising the legal smoking age and increasing taxes on smoking products – which is the main proven strategy for reducing the demand for smoking products among youngsters. All this, so we can raise a generation of tobacco-free and addiction-free citizens.”
Dana Frost, the ICA Health Promotion Specialist adds – “Tobacco companies will go to any lengths to aggressively market their products to youth and young adults; marketing smoking products in attractive flavors, using hi-tech design, marketing in social networks via opinion makers, and more recently attempting to provide scholarships to medical students. We must not believe the lies being fed by tobacco companies, who pretend as if they are marketing free choice, while in fact their only interest is in maintaining their financial gains – without considering the millions of people who pay with their health and lives each year.”
According to the WHO data, tobacco usage is responsible for 25% of all death cases form cancer worldwide. Using nicotine and tobacco increases the risk for cancer and cardiac, vascular and lung diseases. The industries involved in manufacturing and marketing e-cigarettes use tactics to expand their consumer base under the guise of contributing to public health, while targeting teenagers, which is an age when youth is most prone to taking up smoking.
The nicotine in e-cigarettes is highly addictive, and addition in adolescence, when the brain is still developing, is faster and stronger. Exposure to nicotine may harm the brain development of children and adolescents. In addition, using e-cigarettes doubles the chance of those vaping adolescents to smoke combustible cigarettes later on in life, and their risk of developing cardiac and pulmonary diseases. For several decades, the tobacco industry deliberately adopted well-funded aggressive strategies to attract youth to tobacco and nicotine products. Tobacco companies invested over 8 billion dollars in design, marketing and advertising of attractive products and marketing campaigns, as well as a fortune in fighting any attempt to limit the marketing of smoking products via legislation. Documents within the industry have revealed in-depth studies and calculated approaches designed to attract a new generation of tobacco users. The strategies employed by the tobacco industry in the attempt to recruit youth to the smoking population are extensive and diversified: Selling points near schools and areas with kids; placing tobacco near candy and snacks and paying premiums to vendors; using flavors such a cherry, gum and cotton candy in tobacco and nicotine products to attract teenagers and tempt them to start using smoking products; indirect marketing of tobacco products in movies, TV shows and online programs (product placement); clean, sleek and attractive products that are easy to carry (products designed like USB sticks or candy); promoting products as “less damaging” or “cleaner” alternatives, with no scientific basis for these claims. In addition, tobacco companies use sponsors and recruit online opinion-maker as presenters who address youth. All these marketing tools and many others have one goal in mind: prompting tobacco and nicotine products and replacing the millions who die each year from smoking-related diseases with ne consumers – teenagers. In the U.S., evidence was published that e-cigarette companies offered scholarships to high school students, and in Israel too, there has been a reported attempt by the Philip Morris Company to grant scholarships to medical students in return for training and representation in medical conferences.
A survey led by the Israel Cancer Association in marking the 2020 World No Tobacco Day paints an interesting picture of smoking in Israel during the pandemic: During the lockdown, more young adults ages 18-24 considered quitting smoking due to the virus and even smoked less.
The survey was conducted by the Ipsos Institute and comprised of 629 women and men ages 18 and up, in a representative national sample of the population, showing that:
51% of all smokers aged 18-24 considered quitting smoking due to the virus, compared to 30% of the entire sample of smokers.
49.2% of smokers aged 18-24 report smoking less during the lockdown, compared to 30.2% of the entire sample of smokers.
In the Arab society, 31% report that someone in their family took up smoking during the pandemic, compared to 8% amongst the Jewish society.
As far as passive smoking, about 26% of the total smokers in the sample report smoking at home during the lockdown period; 43.5% of the smokers ages 18-24 reported smoking at home; 22.1% of the Jewish smokers report smoking at home during the lockdown, compared to 38.8% in the Arab sector; 61% of smokers report that they did not smoke at home during the lockdown period, but smoked on the balcony and/or the backyard and/or in the car.
The ICA Director General, Moshe Bar-Haim, emphasizes that – “Most often, smoking on balconies is akin to smoking inside the house in terms of household members being subjected to the health hazards of the emitted smoke around them. It has been unequivocally proven that cigarette smoke inhaled via passive smoking significantly increases the risk of lung cancer, heart attack, stroke and other diseases. The risk is greater the more the level and duration of exposure increase. The highest risk level is amongst people living in the same household with a smoker. The morbidity rate of lung cancer and cardiac diseases amongst people who live with partners who smoke is 25% higher than in people whose partners don’t smoke.”