Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

Introducing “language of cigarette” to children

New tricks to attract children into becoming future smokers
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While efforts are being made to curb smoking menace worldwide, there are some ill forces which are going all way out to break this effort.
 
A survey conducted by CAP shows products resembling popular brands of cigarettes, targeting children are sold in the market.

CAP official bought sweets named “LOVECIGA CANDY” in red and green packaging which looks exactly like popular brand of cigarette.  The word “medium” which is normally seen in cigarettes boxes is printed on this packaging.  
 
Another packaging with the name “CIGARETTE NOTEPAPER” sold as stationery contains few papers in the box. A ring is attached inside the box to roll these papers into a cigarette shape.  Instruction on how to roll and attach the ring is given.  The rolled note paper looks exactly like cigarette stick.  Children tend to put the rolled paper in their mouth and imitate the action of a smoker.   The label on packaging carries words such as:  “lowered tar & nicotine”, “tobacco seriously damages health”, “State express” and “lights”.  These words have no relevance with the content and yet printed on the box.  Clearly, these words have hidden motive of introducing the “language of cigarette” to children.
 
Another packaging which contains four chocolate bars is designed like a mega size cigarette in 16 cm length and 3 cm diameter with colours of cigarette sticks.
 
All these products are imported from Korea and easily available in toy and gift shops.
 
Children are unconsciously compelled to see a packaging which looks similar to cigarette packets.  Anything that is introduced at tender age makes children believe that it is acceptable and agreeable in their life.  Bearing this in mind, companies and traders are being very creative in introducing products which look like cigarettes and cigarette packets.  This will increase the chances of these children into becoming future smokers.  
 
Tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.  There are more than one billion smokers in the world.
 
•    Globally, use of tobacco products is increasing, although it is decreasing in high-income countries.

•    Almost half of the world's children breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke.

•    Tobacco use kills 5.4 million people a year - an average of one person every six seconds - and accounts for one in 10 adult deaths worldwide.

•    Tobacco kills up to half of all users.

It is a risk factor for six of the eight leading causes of deaths in the world.

•    100 million deaths were caused by tobacco in the 20th century. If current trends continue, there will be up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.

•    Unchecked, tobacco-related deaths will increase to more than eight million a year by 2030, and 80% of those deaths will occur in the developing world.
 
Smoking habit has reached an alarming proportion in Malaysia.  Statistics shows 50 to 70 children from the age group of 12-18 starts smoking everyday.

Tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable illness and death in Malaysia. There are more than 6,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke.  Smoking has been universally accepted as one of the leading causes of cancer. Based on government hospital statistics, lung cancer is the most common form of cancer among males. One of the main causes of lung cancer is the use of tobacco.

Smoking causes at least about 10,000 deaths a year, not to mention the enormous costs of treating tobacco related diseases which run into billions of ringgit.
 
If efforts are not taken to curb the production and sale of products targeting children into becoming smokers, then all moves to reduce the number of smokers in future will go waste.
 
Meanwhile CAP urges the relevant authorities to take action against the traders who introduce such products in market.

Press Statement - 7 May 2014