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Children in Developing Nations Targeted by Tobacco Company Marketing

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Tobacco companies, which have been banned from targeting children and teens in the United States, are focusing on young people in the developing world, according to Scientific American. These companies’ tactics continue despite an international treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which is designed to limit tobacco manufacturers’ marketing in developing nations.

A study published earlier this year in the journal Pediatrics found that 68 percent of 5- and 6-year-olds in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Russia could identify at least one cigarette brand logo. The researchers said the findings suggest that more effective measures are needed to restrict the reach of tobacco marketing.

Study researcher Dina Borzekowski of the University of Maryland, College Park, said the children who could best identify tobacco brands did not necessarily live with a smoker. This suggests children are learning about cigarettes in public rather than at home. “You would think this would only happen with children who lived with smokers or had a family member who smoked, but it didn’t,” she noted.

Joaquin Barnoya, research assistant professor of public health at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, who studies tobacco sales and antismoking efforts in Guatemala, says tobacco companies use “nontraditional” advertising in that country. They pay retailers to place their products in the most visible parts of the store, such as directly behind or in front of the cash register. They also use promotional advertising, such as two-for-one discounts. “It’s like a store placing the candy at the front where you’re most likely to see it and buy it,” he says.

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