Many Smartphone Apps Promote Pro-Smoking Messages, Study Finds
Many smartphone applications promote a pro-smoking message, a new study concludes. Some programs allow the user to simulate smoking or collect points for buying cigarettes, while others offer images of cigarettes that can be set as the phone’s “wallpaper.”
The researchers also found apps that provide advice on how to hand-roll tobacco, or allow users to pass a cigarette to on-screen characters.
Researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia evaluated apps available in the Apple App Store and the Android Market, and found 107 tobacco-friendly programs, AFP reports. They note 42 were from the Android Market and were downloaded by more than six million users.
A person who downloads apps from Apple receives messages about age restrictions when the content is related to smoking, or classified as “high maturity,” but there are no such warnings in the Android Market, the researchers note.
In a news release, the researchers say young people are particularly vulnerable to pro-smoking messages, because of the popularity of smartphones among this age group, and the appeal of the apps. They note the apps may be violating the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which bans advertising and promotion of tobacco products in all media.
The findings appear in the journal Tobacco Control.