The Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) is unveiling visual expressions of protest against the tobacco industry’s ploys to manipulate the youth today – May 31, as the world marks World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).
The key message and call to action for #WNTD2020 is in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) theme: “Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use.”
GGTC will be inviting the youth to react (like, love, wow) to the most enlightening crowd-sourced media materials that will be exhibited in GGTC’s Facebook page (#TheGGTC) from May 31- June 7.
Every year the WHO and its partners celebrate WNTD highlighting the damage caused by tobacco use. This year, WHO implores all sectors to help stop tobacco and related industry’s marketing tactics that prey on children and young people; including the hooking with novel “initiation” products, marketing vaping devices as safe, distributing in school vicinities, selling at affordable prices, and attracting kids with fun flavors, sleek packaging, flashy displays, vending machines, influencer marketing, film/ television placements, music and sports events, and freebies.
According to GGTC’s Executive Director, Bungon Ritthiphakdee, “The tobacco and related industries have outdone itself during COVID-19 in an effort to lure the young and impressionable.”
In the past month, public health groups protested the industry’s role in the spread of misleading messages that promote vaping and nicotine to fight COVID-19 despite evidence to the contrary; while WHO noted that smokers are at a high risk for developing severe and even fatal COVID-19. The tobacco industry was also called out for branding itself as vaccine developer and donor of PPEs while seeking lockdown exemptions and tax privileges to sell more of its lethal products that already kill 8 million people annually and cause USD1.4 trillion in economic losses.
“We already have a vaccine against the tobacco industry: A global treaty that requires governments to protect their policies from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry (Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control). Governments must use this vaccine to keep the tobacco industry away from our children. Regulators are urged to make the industry pay for past and future harms caused, and to ban its novel addictive products to protect the youth.” added Ms. Rithiphakdee.
All over the world, 44 million children and adolescents (aged 13-15) are using tobacco products. Over 90% start smoking during adolescence. In recent years, the US has seen a new phenomenon, a teen vaping epidemic where vaping devices are seen as gateway to smoking and use of other drugs. Research shows that nicotine is highly addictive and causes long term damage to the developing brain, affecting learning and decision-making. Among adolescents, nicotine has also been found to cause mood swings, irritability, impulsivity; and increase risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental illness.
The crowdsourced materials to be publicized in Facebook are some of the finalists in the STOP Global Media Competition organized by GGTC in collaboration with global partners African Tobacco Control Alliance, Association of European Cancer Leagues, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Corporate Accountability, Framework Convention Alliance, International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; along with country partners. The contest welcomed submissions of posters, videos, memes, GIFs, digital stickers, and infographics that expose tobacco industry’s tactics to lure the youth into a lifelong addiction.
Rithiphakdee noted that “A tobacco company executive claimed in the 1980s, “Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer.” That revealing statement remains true until today; we need to protect the youth of the world from the clutches of tobacco industry.”
The Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) aims to address the single greatest obstacle to tobacco control, tobacco industry interference. It is a joint initiative of the School of Global Studies, Thammasat University and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA). It is also key partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) and has been designated as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat as the Knowledge Hub on Article 5.3, (treaty provision on countering tobacco industry interference).
Learn more about this issue through additional readings provided by the link:
World Health Organization (31 May 2020). Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2020/05/31/default-calendar/world-no-tobacco-day-2020-protecting-youth-from-industry-manipulation-and-preventing-them-from-tobacco-and-nicotine-use (accessed on 29 May 2020)
World Health Organization (26 may 2020). Smoking and COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/smoking-and-covid-19 (accessed on 29 May 2020)
Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (26 May 2020). Tobacco Industry: Manipulating the Youth into a Lifelong Addiction. Retrieved from https://ggtc.world/2020/05/26/tobacco-industry-manipulating-the-youth-into-a-lifelong-addiction/ (accessed on 29 May 2020)
Stopping Tobacco Organization and Products (30 April 2020). An Open Letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations. Retrieved from https://ggtc.world/2020/05/03/an-open-letter-to-the-secretary-general-of-the-united-nations/ (accessed on 29 May 2020)
Stopping Tobacco Organization and Products (15 May 2020). Letter to the Delegates of the 73rd World Health Assembly. Retrieved from https://ggtc.world/2020/05/17/letter-to-the-delegates-of-the-73rd-world-health-assembly/ (accessed on 29 May 2020)
*Featured photo is a submission by Daria Skripnik to STOP’s 2020 Global Media Competition accessed through GGTC. It is edited for the purpose visual presentation for this news article. The original material is presented here.