By Lady Marie Dela Torre, PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Six international public health organizations called on the government to protect children with comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising and promotions Dr. Mary Assunta, senior policy advisor of SEATCA, said that the tobacco company continues to aggressively roll-out tobacco campaign targeting teen-agers.
This as the Philip Morris International (PMI) has launched an aggressive new marketing campaign revitalizing its Marlboro brand in more than 50 countries despite the findings of a German court that the campaign targets youth and similar complaints in other countries.
In a report, entitled “You’re the Target”, the Alliance for the Control of Tobacco Use, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Tobacco Control Alliance, Corporate Accountability International, Framework Convention Alliance, Inter-American Heart Foundation and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance expose PMI’s tactics in recruiting young smokers.
The global marketing campaign, launched in Germany in 2011, associates smoking Marlboro with a youth-friendly lifestyle of risk-taking, exploration and freedom and delivers the message “Don’t Be a Maybe. Be Marlboro.” It feature images of attractive young people engaging in adventure sports such as snowboarding, mountain biking, partying, falling in love, and playing music. The campaign tells young audiences that “Maybe never fell in love” or “A maybe is not invited” and they should define themselves by choosing to “Be Marlboro.”
In October 2013, a German court banned the “Be Marlboro” campaign, finding that it encouraged children as young as 14 to smoke in violation of Germany’s tobacco advertising law and that “the advertising specifically targets risk-taking, rebellious youths” (PMI has indicated it will challenge the ruling, but the court’s ban remains in place). Complaints that the campaign targets youth and violates advertising regulations have also been filed in Brazil, Colombia and Switzerland.
Despite the findings of the German court, Assunta said PMI has continued to aggressively roll-out the “Be Marlboro” campaign globally, including in the Philippines and Indonesia where smoking prevalence remain high. There are 17 million smokers in the Philippines and 65 million smokers in Indonesia. “Both the Philippines and Indonesia are cash cows for PMI and other tobacco companies,” said Assunta.
“The fact that PMI continues with the Marlboro campaign in Asia despite being found guilty in Germany only goes to show they want Asia’s children no matter what. We have to stop them and protect our children using stringent laws,” she added.
In the Philippines, The 2007 Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) says 22.7 percent of the 13-15 year olds use tobacco; 12 percent of girls in the same age group were found to smoke cigarettes, and smoking prevalence in girls is higher than among adult women (ages 15-44 years). 40.2 percent of men started smoking daily by age 15-17, and despite a legal age for tobacco purchase (18 yrs.), over half of men started before the age of 18. Among women, 33.7 percent started smoking at the age of 15-17, which clearly indicates the emerging trend of smoking among girls.
Every cigarette retail outlet is an opportunity to advertise tobacco. This means in the Philippines there are about 695,000 opportunities for tobacco advertising in retail outlets which also reaches minors said Atty. Irene Patricia Reyes, managing director of HealthJustice.