A new study has revealed that about two-thirds of young children in low and middle-income countries can identify cigarette brand logos.
The study from researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health (UMD SPH) and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), examined the reach of tobacco and cigarette marketing among some of the world's most vulnerable populations, sampling five and six year-old children from Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Russia.
Dr. Dina Borzekowski, lead author of the study, said that it should be of great concern that the majority of very young children in the study were familiar with at least one cigarette brand, and even in households without smokers, children could identify tobacco logos.
“Regulations created by the World Health Organization to restrict tobacco advertising exist outside of the United States, but beyond our country’s borders these regulations may not be as effective,” Borzekowski explained, referring to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The researchers said multi-national tobacco companies appear to have moved their promotional efforts from high-income, industrialized countries to low- and middle-income countries where there are often weak tobacco control policies and poor enforcement.
When children are aware of logos, they are more likely to like and want those products. This is concerning when the products – such as tobacco – should not be used by children. Borzekowski and colleagues suggest changes including requiring larger graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. Additionally, they urge changes to limit children’s exposure to the point of sale of tobacco products, including establishing minimum distances between these retailers and places frequented by young children.
For this study, researchers worked one-on-one with the participating children, asking them to match pictures of different products with their corresponding logos.
In China, where roughly 71 percent of households with participating children had a tobacco user, 86 percent of children could identify at least one cigarette brand logo. Pakistan had the second highest percentage, with 84 percent of children capable of identifying at least one cigarette brand logo. Russia ranked last on the list with half of the participants able to identify any of the cigarette brand logos.
The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.