World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2024: Protecting children from tobacco industry interference (2) Part 1/2

15 May, 2024

This May 31, a new World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is celebrated. Every year, WHO tries to draw attention to a specific problem related to tobacco. This year, the WNTD theme is: 'Protecting children from tobacco industry interference' .

The objective is to draw the attention of the world and its government representatives to the predatory tobacco industry tactics that target youth for a lifetime of profits.

Tobacco companies have decades of experience marketing their products to kids and teens. From ad campaigns to product placement to cartoon characters, Big Tobacco has spent big bucks on getting kids to start smoking. These tactics are grossly deceptive.

The Tobacco Industry have called youth as their "replacement smokers" and aggressively advertise to youth, because they know they are killing their current customers.

An infamous quote from one tobacco industry document [ ] gives insight on how they view recruitment:

"Younger adult smokers have been the critical factor in the growth and decline of every major brand and company over the last 50 years. They will continue to be just as important to brands/companies in the future for two simple reasons: The renewal of the market stems almost entirely from 18-year-old smokers. No more than 5 percent of smokers start after age 24. [And] the brand loyalty of 18-year-old smokers far outweighs any tendency to switch with age... Brands/companies which fail to attract their fair share of younger adult smokers face an uphill battle. They must achieve net switching gains every year to merely hold share... Younger adult smokers are the only source of replacement smokers... If younger adults turn away from smoking, the industry must decline, just as a population which does not give birth will eventually dwindle." February 29, 1984 RJR report, "Young Adult Smokers: Strategies and Opportunities". Bates No. 501928462-8550 (1)

Now, the tactic is creating a new wave of addiction. Children are using e-cigarettes at rates higher than adults in all regions. (2)

Regarding WHO, children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life. (3)

Therefore, it is not e-cigarette regulation that continues to drive youth tobacco use, but rather the actions of the tobacco industry.

In 2016, Tobacco control researchers have proposed a Policy Dystopia Model (PDM) that identifies several broad strategies used by the industry to achieve its goals. In addition to lobbying and legal threats, tobacco companies use the following strategies:

Information management – to create and disseminate industry-friendly evidence while attacking public health evidence.

Reputation management – to rehabilitate the reputation of the industry while attacking public health advocates, researchers and organisations.

Coalition management – to build a tobacco industry coalition while fragmenting the public health coalition.(4) (5)

I would like to highlight another strategy: Claiming a Public Health Role.

As the global cigarette market has started to shrink, tobacco companies have invested in newer nicotine and tobacco products. [ ] These may be labelled ‘reduced risk’ or ‘modified risk’ products. [ ]

Tobacco companies use harm reduction [ ] to try to get a ‘seat at the table’ and influence policy, while attacking their critics and undermining public health. Promotional programmes use phrases such as “smoke-free world” (PMI)- ; “better tomorrow” (BAT) or “brighter future” (JTI), and frame these as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities (5)

For this purpose, the tobacco industry often uses the third party technique [ ] to represent their interests. This is a form of coalition management where companies operate with other organisations to promote industry interests and undermine public health. These industry “allies” can be described in different ways, depending on their form, links to industry, or activities.

The STOP database of Tobacco Industry Allies has three categories (6):

Third Parties , which can include think tanks [ ], trade associations [ ] and other lobby groups [ ]

Front Groups [ ] – in which the industry plays a more active, or organizing role

Astroturf Groups [ ] – fake ‘grassroots’ organisations or campaigns

Therefore, when an opinion is issued on the topic of tobacco, as in this forum that is oriented to Public Health, any conflicts of interest that may exist with the Tobacco Industry should be declared.

This is my opinion. What do you think?

Kind regards,









Dr. Eduardo Bianco

Director, Addiction Training Program for Health Professionals (ATHP)



HIFA profile: Eduardo Bianco is a medical doctor and Cardiologist, Certified Tobacco Cessation Expert with a Masters in Prevention and Treatment of Addictive Disorders. Currently, he is Chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group. Dr. Biancos research examines tobacco control and cessation, and he is a prominent member of several organizations that address tobacco control in Latin America. Dr. Bianco has worked for 25 years in Uruguay and Latin America to promote and train in smoking cessation treatment and tobacco control policies. He is also the former Regional Coordinator for the Americas of the Framework Convention Alliance and former Technical Director of the MOH Center for International Cooperation for Tobacco. ebianco AT