Young people are speaking out against the big tobacco industry – global problems

tobacco 22

tobacco 22
  • Opinion by Rajika Mahajan (Bangkok)
  • Inter-Press Office

The Global youth voices (GYV) movement, convened by the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC), has become a powerful front to hold the tobacco industry accountable and protect the well-being of future generations.

The addictive nature of nicotine, a key ingredient in tobacco products, is largely unknown to many. Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin, manipulating nerve cells to release more dopamine, creating a feeling of ‘high’. The young brain creates more receptors to process the expected nicotine, so teens need more nicotine to get the same high.

This addiction is especially powerful in young brains, which continue to develop until about age 25, making teens more susceptible to addiction. Among young people, smoking causes faster heart rate, shortness of breath, increased risk of lung cancer, decreased lung function, limitations in performance and endurance, and other health problems. ,

Furthermore, emerging evidence shows that Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) or e-cigarettes, launched by the industry as alternative tobacco products, harmful and can act as a gateway to conventional smoking among young people or to the renormalization of smoking in society.

On a memorable note meeting organized by GYV, the youth adopted a Declaration they demanded comprehensive measures to tackle the tobacco industry’s exploitation of young people. They called for the tobacco industry to be held accountable for luring young people into addiction and harming health and the environment. They urged governments, educational institutions, international organizations and the media to combat the industry’s insidious influence.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed support for the role of young people in combating the tobacco and nicotine epidemic and, underlined the crucial role of youth as a force for change and a key element in shaping a tobacco-free future. This recognition of the energy, passion and innovation that young voices bring is playing an important role in sparking a global movement against Big Tobacco.

The tobacco industry has lasted a long time manipulated and ensnaring youth into lifelong addiction through flavored tobacco products and targeted marketing. According to the WHO approximately 37 million children (13-15 years) use tobacco products worldwide, including e-cigarettes. Young e-cigarette users are two to four times more likely to switch to traditional cigarettes, underscoring the urgency of the situation as it threatens to reverse any progress made in combating youth smoking.

In addition to making young people addicted, the tobacco industry also causes significant damage to the environment, costing an estimated $26 billion annually due to plastic in cigarette butts and packaging. Cigarette butt pollution has become a widespread global problem, exacerbating environmental degradation for future generations.

The urgency of tackling the serious threat posed by the tobacco industry is undisputed. Dr. Mary Assunta, head of research and advocacy at GGTC, highlights the need to dismantle the industry’s deceptive web to protect children,”The tobacco industry is a diabolical predator that preys on children despite claims that it does not target them. Telling kids not to smoke or vape is simply not enough. We must take action to stop the industry from ensnaring our youth.”

In response to these alarming trends, the GGTC has empowered youth to counter the tobacco industry’s tricks. It’s a new advocacy toolbox“Protecting Youth from Tobacco Industry Interference” provides easy-to-implement strategies and guidelines for tobacco control advocates.

To harness the creativity of youth to expose the tobacco industry’s deceptive tactics, a global media competition, the ‘Social roles challenge,” a collaboration with WHO, provides young people with a platform to express their concerns.

With millions of children worldwide falling into the trap of nicotine addiction, it is imperative to act decisively and stop the exploitative actions of the tobacco industry. The voices of youth must be heard, their stories must be shared, and their calls to action must be heeded as we work toward a future free from the clutches of Big Tobacco.

The collective efforts of global youth, supported by international organizations and the public health community, are spearheading this vital movement to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations. Together we can pave the way for a healthier, tobacco-free future.

Rajika Mahajan is a communications officer at GGTC.

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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