Health Group Seeks Tobacco Ad Ban

DETROIT The World Health Organization is urging governments to prohibit all tobacco advertising, including sponsorships and promotions.

The group, based in Switzerland, claims that tobacco companies target marketing at young people by “falsely associating use of tobacco products with qualities such as glamor, energy and sex appeal.”

“In order to survive, the tobacco industry needs to replace those who quit or die with new young consumers,” WHO’s director Margaret Chan said in a statement. “It does this by creating a complex ‘tobacco marketing net’ that ensnares millions of young people worldwide, with potentially devastating health consequences.”

Several countries like Norway, Canada and Finland have banned tobacco advertising. Studies have found moderate decreases in smoking as a result of those bans.

A study appearing in the American Journal of Public Health in 2004 found that “partial bans result in industry resources being shifted to the remaining venues, and thus partial bans have been found to be far less effective than comprehensive bans in reducing tobacco consumption.”

“Half measures are not enough,” Douglas Bettcher, director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said in a statement.

Ad spending for tobacco in the U.S. last year was slightly less than $100 million, down 2 percent from 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.