Doctors Call for End to Tobacco Ads in Child-Accessible Media

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The American Academy of Pediatrics wants the federal government to go further than ever in limiting tobacco ads, by banning them not only from forms of media intended for youth, but even in “all media accessible to children,” such as movies.

The report, published in the October issue of Pediatrics, also urges the entertainment industry to express a “greater sensitivity about the effects of movies on children and adolescents” by taking active measures to counter-act the glamorization of tobacco use, from designating movie sets as “smoke-free zones” to running anti-smoking ads before every movie that includes tobacco use.

Nearly 90 percent of smokers begin by the age of 19, according to the report, which suggests that the percentage would decrease through the elimination of advertising that may appeal directly to youth. (The sale of candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes, for example, has already been banned.)

Altria – the parent company of Philip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company – issued a statement saying that those companies “responsibly market their products to adults who use tobacco.” It says their tobacco products are not marketed on television or in newspaper and magazines.

The marketing of tobacco products is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Following legislation passed last year, the FDA has made incremental changes to permissible forms of tobacco advertising, including banning tobacco company sponsorships of sports teams and entertainment artists.

The academy also proposes comparatively less severe limitations on alcohol advertising, because “alcohol use is still condoned in many venues and use in moderation may be healthful for adults.”

Free, 11 pages. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/peds.2010-1635v1.pdf.