Children who smoke may become addicted, are likely to keep smoking when they grow up, and risk contracting cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, and other serious illnesses later in life. No one wants children to smoke. The question is how to stop them from smoking, and who can make that happen.
Parents play an influential role, educating their children about healthy lifestyles and telling them how important it is not to smoke. Adult smokers should keep their cigarettes out of the reach of children and should not smoke when kids are around
Many public health groups are also working hard to prevent youth smoking by developing educational programs designed for children.
Governments can contribute by passing laws that make it a crime to sell cigarettes to children, and by strictly enforcing those laws. It might seem surprising, but there are still countries today without minimum age laws for tobacco purchase. And even where laws do exist, many countries are not taking effective steps to enforce them. As everyone knows, where minimum age laws are not enforced, kids can buy cigarettes.
We also believe that tobacco manufacturers can and should take action to prevent youth smoking. Tobacco company actions can range from supporting effective regulation to implementing their own youth smoking prevention programs.
Here is what Philip Morris International is doing:
Supporting Effective Regulation
We are advocating regulations across the globe that will help prevent youth smoking. For example, where minimum age laws do not exist we are advocating for governments to adopt them, such as in Indonesia and South Africa.
We actively encourage all governments to strictly enforce minimum age laws, arguing that in order to be effective there must be a tangible impact on retailers who flout them. We also support other measures including penalties for adults who buy or provide cigarettes to minors, and where appropriate, licensing of retailers.
Implementing Retail Access Prevention Programs
We train retailers by informing them about the law, their responsibilities, and how best to prevent sales to children. In line with Article 16 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, we also give retailers signage to indicate that selling to minors is illegal.
Supporting Educational Programs
We are not education experts, and you will not find us in classrooms. But we do give financial support to the youth smoking prevention efforts of teachers, community groups, and other specialists around the world.
While we do not have any input on content of the educational programs we fund, it is our hope that children are taught to:
- understand that smoking is addictive and causes serious, life-threatening diseases;
- think independently and resist peer pressure; and
- decide against smoking.