Preventing children from smoking something that is addictive and can cause disease is extremely important.
Parents and teachers should work together to educate children about the adverse health effects of smoking and how important it is not to start smoking. Adult smokers should keep their cigarettes out of the reach of children and should not smoke when children 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 or for an adult to buy cigarettes for 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 governments are not effectively enforcing them.
Tobacco manufacturers can also take action to help prevent youth smoking, such as supporting effective regulation of the tobacco market and funding educational programs.
Here is what Philip Morris International (PMI) is doing:
Supporting Effective Regulation
We are advocating regulations across the globe that will help prevent youth smoking. For example, we supported the recent decision to put stricter tobacco regulations into place in Indonesia, including minimum age laws.
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 violate them. We also support other measures including penalties for adults who buy or provide cigarettes to minors, and where appropriate, licensing of retailers to sell tobacco products.
In addition, we are actively working to combat the illegal sale of counterfeit and contraband tobacco, which the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates to be approximately 600 billion cigarettes per year. In addition to being less expensive and therefore more affordable for minors than legal cigarettes, those selling tobacco products on the black market do not bother complying with minimum age laws.
Supporting Educational Programs
We are not education experts, but we provide financial support to the youth smoking prevention efforts of teachers, community groupsand other specialists where we feel such help is needed. We do so with strict instructions that the programs are not to be branded with any of our cigarette trademarks or our company’s name.
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.