POLICY BRIEF: Supporting youth engagement in policy-making as a dual weapon against the Tobacco, Nicotine and Vaping Industry

The Tobacco Industry is the backbone of the biggest public health threat fueled by the most addictive and deadly product. For decades, this industry has been responsible for millions of deaths. Nearly as soon as the Tobacco Industry was shaped, it has been deploying youth-targeting approaches identifying young people as potential long-term users as an effective means to continuously substitute those who died due to tobacco-related diseases and, thus, maintain its immense body of “faithful” customers. The subtle success of global tobacco control in terms of the decreasing number of cigarette smokers was counteracted/backlashed by a solid playing card of novel tobacco products.

“Novel tobacco products” is a composite name of a strongly diversified market of new products created by the industry to disorient the global tobacco control efforts and attract more smokers. In contrast to cigarettes, novel tobacco products have been accurately crafted, branded, and promoted among the youth. The fact that adolescents are physiologically more vulnerable to developing dependence and the fact that adolescent tobacco use behavior sustains for the whole lifetime is particularly disturbing for the tobacco control community.

The reports across regions indicate that youth tobacco use is being accelerated in association with the new products entering the markets which later transforms into a dual use of conventional and novel tobacco products. There is compelling evidence that highlights the deliberate efforts of the tobacco industry to target youth as a key demographic. Through various marketing and promotional strategies, the industry has sought to attract a new generation of consumers, posing significant public health challenges.

Tobacco control is still behind new products’ proliferating and yet mostly unregulated landscape. Therefore, youth engagement in tobacco control is an important weapon to educate and empower young people to demand and fight for their rights and health. Youth engagement in health policy and tobacco control is increasingly recognized as a crucial component in addressing the challenges posed by tobacco use and novel tobacco products among young people.

The evidence of the tobacco industry targeting youth is clear and necessitates a comprehensive response from policymakers, public health officials, and communities alike. In this policy brief, ENSPnext aims to address these targeted strategies to encourage and coordinate significant efforts toward safeguarding the well-being of the youth and preventing the initiation of tobacco use among this vulnerable demographic.

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