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Study Shows Global Tobacco Marketing Reaches 5- and 6-Year-Olds

A new study from the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows the wide reach of global tobacco marketing. The study, led by Dina Borzekowski, EdD, a public health professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, and an adjunct professor at the Bloomberg School, shows that the majority of very young children from certain low- and middle-income countries are familiar with cigarette brands—close to 68% of the 5- and 6-year-olds were able to identify at least one cigarette logo. This study’s findings suggest that more effective measures are needed to restrict tobacco marketing. The article is published in the October issue of Pediatrics.

Previous research has shown that exposure to, interest in, and positive attitudes about pro-tobacco marketing and media messages are positively associated with youth liking smoking, early initiation, and increased use. Most of these studies, however, have worked with older children from the United States and other high-income countries.

This new study occurred in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia. Researchers worked one-on-one with 5- and 6-year-olds. The children played a game where they had to match logos with pictures of products, including eight logos for cigarette brands.

While two-thirds of the overall sample could identify at least one brand, the highest awareness was in China. There, 85.9% could identify at least one cigarette brand and, on average, the Chinese children could identify 3.8 brands. Overall, children who lived in households with a tobacco user were more likely to be able to identify at least one brand, but this was not consistent across countries studied. According to Borzekowski, “One interesting finding was that in China, India, and Nigeria, living with a tobacco user was not significantly associated with awareness, suggesting that children were learning about tobacco brands outside of the household through environmental and media messages.”

— Source: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health