Tobacco companies are now advertising cigarettes next to sweets and snacks at kiosks in front of primary and secondary schools in Africa, a survey conducted by the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) has shown.
According to Deowan Mohee, ATCA’s executive secretary, the research exposed tobacco companies strategy by monitoring five countries in Africa.
“The evidence is clear. British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, and other tobacco companies deliberately and systematically target African children near their schools in order to encourage cigarette smoking among them,” he said.
The survey was conducted in 2016 in a radius of 100 meters around 79 schools in five African countries, show that the companies targets children within primary and secondary school age bracket of six to 17.
“The survey findings lay bare the egregious tactics used by tobacco companies to market their deadly products to young school children, making them accessible and affordable,” Leonce Sessou, ATCA communications manager, added.
According to ATCA survey, companies like British American Tobacco “makes extensive use of advertising and promotion to encourage school children to experiment with tobacco, increase consumption and normalize the habit.”
The organisation says apart from adverts, “tobacco companies also promote the sale of single sticks and child-friendly flavoured cigarettes to lure the children to the cheap and sweet-tasting products.”
The marketing and advertising strategies violate existing anti-tobacco laws in Nigeria which prohibit tobacco advertising and promotion.
ATCA called on African governments “to enact and vigilantly enforce laws that are compliant to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.”
“If unchecked, the aggressive marketing strategy of tobacco companies towards children will contribute to a major epidemic of tobacco use in Africa, causing unprecedented health, economic, social and environmental consequences,” Mohee said.
Also, Akibode Oluwafemi, deputy executive director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), said “the ATCA report has again exposed the length the tobacco companies will go to addict our kids”.
“Governments across Africa must put in place and implement effective measures to stop this unwholesome practice which is targeted at the lungs of our kids.
“The ban on single sticks and small packs sale, and total prohibition of tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) near schools should be taken with more seriousness and enforced by African governments.”
According to a 2013 report from the American Cancer Society, African children, sometimes, smoke more than their counterparts in other developing regions of the world.