MANILA, Philippines—The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday called for a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship as it marks World No Tobacco Day Friday.
The WHO said the ban should include point-of-sale (POS) advertising or store sales promotions, the last refuge of advertisers still allowed in most countries where all other kinds of tobacco advertising have been banned.
It said that children were exposed to POS advertising, since cigarettes were often sold near racks of candy and other items aimed at children.
“As called for in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, governments must comprehensively ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship,” said Shin Young-soo, WHO Western Pacific regional director.
“We must halt the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing of its products, which cause addiction, suffering and millions of deaths each year,” he said.
The WHO noted that after Hong Kong banned tobacco advertising in broadcast media, billboards and print media, it was found that brand recognition remained high at 30 percent to 64 percent among children whose families were nonsmoking because POS advertising and sponsorship were not controlled.
To subvert marketing bans, the tobacco industry has shifted to forms of indirect advertising, such as sponsorship of sports or cultural events and viral marketing, including word-of-mouth, the WHO said.
The global organization warned that tobacco use was a leading cause of preventable death, killing nearly six million people every year around the world.
“Of this number, more than 600,000 are nonsmokers who die from exposure to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030,” the WHO said.
Meanwhile, the cancer survivor group New Voice Association of the Philippines (NVAP) urged the government to enact stricter antismoking laws to plug legal loopholes “that are being used by the tobacco industry to continue to promote their deadly products.”
“As the tobacco industry loses its grip on the West, it has turned its eyes on Asean, especially the Philippines, to promote its deadly products,” said Emer Rojas, NVAP president.