Tobacco ban ignored near PH schools – study

Tobacco ban ignored near PH schools – study

TOBACCO and nicotine products sale and advertising still persist within the proximity of schools in the Philippines despite government regulations, a study shows.

An observational study conducted by the Institute for Global Tobacco Control (IGTC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health also finds that enforcement of the comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship near schools is “one of the most cost-effective and high-impact ways to reduce demand for tobacco.”

“Stricter enforcement of existing policies prohibiting sales and advertising of tobacco products within 100 meters of schools and implementation of a national comprehensive policy on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship can protect the well-being of Filipino youth and reduce the rate of tobacco-caused death and disease in the Philippines,” the study investigator of IGTC and scientist Jennifer Brown said.

From December 2022 to January 2023, the study monitored the sale and marketing of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and heated tobacco products (HTPs) at 6,617 retailers within 200 meters of 353 schools in urban and rural areas of nine Filipino cities and regions.

In violation of Philippine law, 2,070 cigarettes, 43 e-cigarettes, and 33 HTPs retail locations were observed within 100 meters of the majority of schools.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), among youth ages 13 to 15, 11 percent smoke tobacco products, and 14 percent use e-cigarettes; while 77 percent of those who smoke bought products from stores, kiosks, or street vendors, contrary to laws prohibiting sales to youth.

Findings show that, despite policies requiring signage indicating that sales are prohibited to people under 21 years of age, only 11 percent of cigarette retailers; 4 percent of e-cigarette retailers; and 48 percent of HTP retailers had the requisite signage visible.

Moreover, the study indicates that young people and adolescents can be particularly susceptible to the influential effects of point-of-sale marketing, such as strategically located product displays, sales of single-stick cigarettes — which make cigarettes more affordable — and prominent advertising, including at children’s eye level.

Indoor and outdoor advertising, such as graphic printed signage and posters, was also common across all retailer types, and 98 percent of cigarette retailers sold single-stick cigarettes.

The proximity of tobacco and nicotine product stores, shops, street vendors and kiosks to schools contributes to the wide availability of these products, leaving the Filipino youth exposed to tobacco marketing strategies.

Also, flavored tobacco and nicotine products were commonly available across retailers, including 90 percent of cigarette retailers and 98 percent of e-cigarette, and HTP retailers.

“Flavors can expand product appeal by masking the harsh taste of tobacco. Flavored products are also linked to increased product appeal and initiation among young people,” the study shows.

Source: Manilas Times