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Mothers Unite on World No Tobacco Day to Shield Children from Industry Influence & New-Age Gateway Devices

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Mothers Unite on World No Tobacco Day to Shield Children from Industry Influence & New-Age Gateway Devices


In line with the WHO (World Health Organisation) World No Tobacco Day 2024 theme of “Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference”, Mothers Against Vaping, a united front of concerned mothers combatting the escalating vaping crisis among our youth, today organized an event in the Indian International Centre, New Delhi. In the event titled “Saving the Next Generation from New-Age Addictions”, Mothers from various walks of life united under Mothers Against Vaping and pledged to protect children from the global tobacco industry’s interference.

Kushboo Sundar, Actress and Politician, a special invitee of BJP National Executive Committee and a member of the National Commission for Women and Kishwar Desai, Author and Columnist, joined Mothers Against Vaping and bolstered the cause. They join a distinguished group of leading sports icons and influential role models like Baichung Bhutia, Deepa Malik and Neha Dhupia who stand with Mothers Against Vaping in their efforts to eradicate the menace of vaping from the lives of children.

The strong support from these diverse personalities highlights the gravity of the issue tackled by Mothers Against Vaping, affirming its recognition as a critical concern.

At the event, Mothers Against Vaping released a 4-point agenda to counter and neutralize 5 popular alleged strategies adopted by global tobacco industry to promote gateway devices to young children.

The 5 Popular Global Tobacco industry alleged strategies to promote new-age gateway devices to children are –

Focus on New-Age Gateway Electronic Devices: For the MNC Tobacco Industry the focus has allegedly shifted towards new-age gateway electronic devices rather than traditional tobacco products, driven by the fact that children, being digital natives, readily adopt these devices. According to a recent WHO report titled “Hooking the Next Generation,” the multinational tobacco industry employs alarming tactics to target children and young people. This includes designing products and launching marketing campaigns specifically tailored to entice this vulnerable demographic.
Spreading Misinformation: Spreading misinformation that e-cigarette and similar electronic devices like heat-not-burn devices are less harmful than traditional tobacco products. However, doctors and health researchers have been consistently saying that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to traditional cigarette smoking. In-fact studies have shown that vaping or e-cigarette use can still pose significant health risks, including serious lung damage and cardiovascular issues.
Hook Children Early On: It is being alleged that one of the most damaging strategies adopted by the global tobacco industry is to get children hooked early on with these new-age devices. They introduce non-nicotine products featuring enticing flavours like bubble-gum or candyfloss to lure children into usage. Once hooked, they transition them to nicotine-based e-cigarettes, aiming to secure lifelong customers.
Digital Marketing: Digital marketing serves as a powerful tool for targeting children, portraying these devices as cool and desirable. Through platforms like social media, online ads, and influencer partnerships, the tobacco industry allegedly glamorizes these products, effectively popularizing them among children and youth.

effectively popularizing them among children and youth.
Smuggling to Counter Regulations and Laws: To evade regulations banning vapes, e-cigarettes, and similar new-age gateway devices, the large tobacco companies allegedly resort to smuggling routes, often through countries like China. This illicit trade not only ensures widespread availability of vaping products but also exposes children to these devices at an alarming rate.
Talking about the reasons for the rising popularity of these new-age devices among children, Dr. Bhavna Barmi, Clinical Psychologist, Founder, Happiness Studio said, “Children’s mental states make them highly susceptible to early experimentation with addictive behaviours. Hence, we are witnessing a troubling surge in children being drawn to enticing electronic addictive devices like vapes and e-cigarettes. A major factor fuelling this trend is the packaging and advertising tactics employed by manufacturers of these modern devices.”

The 4-point agenda released by Mothers Against Vaping to counter the Global Tobacco Industry strategies are-

  1. Educating stakeholders: The first point is to initiate robust educational campaigns directed at diverse stakeholders, including mothers, teachers, policymakers and children also. This educational initiative must underscore the harmful effects of nicotine consumption through new technology devices. The education should also highlight the potential of these devices to serve as a gateway to more harmful substances. Once addicted to these gateway devices, children may be lured into experimenting with even more dangerous substances like nicotine and heroin.
  2. Providing information about health hazards: Healthcare professionals, particularly doctors, play a crucial role in dispelling myths and providing accurate information about the health hazards of vaping. By leveraging their expertise and first-hand experiences, doctors can offer insights that contradict the misleading narratives promoted by the tobacco industry.

Dr. Rajesh Gupta, Additional Director Pulmonology & Critical Care – Fortis Healthcare Noida said, “There is a concerning lack of awareness among children, teenagers and even their parents regarding the risks associated with new-age vaping devices. Many mistakenly believe that vaping involves only harmless vapours with pleasant flavours. It is crucial to educate them about the reality: these vapours contain harmful chemicals that can lead to serious lung diseases.

  1. Utilizing the Same Marketing Tools and Digital Spaces that the MNC Tobacco companies are using: This should involve launching effective campaigns across various digital channels, including influencers whom children admire and relate to. These campaigns can promote messages centered around valuing one’s body and embracing individuality. In the campaigns, children can be encouraged to reject gateway devices and adopt positive behaviours, such as expressing their uniqueness which can lead to the enhancement of their self-worth and self-esteem as well as enable them to be well informed and make confident choices. Mothers and teachers should also be effectively engaged in these digital spaces. There is also a need to urge the policymakers to bring in stringent laws against various marketing and digital tools that are being deployed.
  1. Urging Policymakers to Address Smuggling: By urging policymakers to prioritize efforts to combat smuggling, stakeholders can disrupt illicit supply chains and reduce access to vaping products, especially among vulnerable populations such as children and adolescents. This will also uphold the integrity of regulatory frameworks aimed at controlling the spread of harmful substances.

During the event, a Pledge Ceremony was conducted, with a large number of mothers in attendance taking part. The Chief Guest, Deepa Malik, Padma Shri Khel Ratna & Arjuna Awardee and a prominent member of Mothers Against Vaping, led the Pledge Ceremony. She said, “This pledge is crucial. I am deeply troubled to see how our children are being lured by the tactics of device manufacturers, risking lifelong addictions not just to nicotine but to even more dangerous substances. It is heart breaking to witness children engaging in such activities when there are much more engaging activities like sports which they can participate in and move towards a bright future and Fit India in a healthy manner. We must organize more events like this and raise awareness about this pressing issue affecting our children.”

Joining Mothers Against Vaping, Kushboo Sundar, speaking about the dangerous impact that vaping and e-cigarettes are having on the lives of children and the youth said, “As a nation, we are making great strides, towards securing a bright future for our children. However, we must confront pressing issues that plague their present reality, such as the alarming prevalence of New Age Gateway Devices like e-cigarettes and vapes. It is deeply troubling to see how manufacturers of such devices are targeting our children with the intention of creating their future customer base with these enticingly sleek and sophisticated products.”

“Apart from the dangerous health risks posed to our children and youth due to the usage of these products, it also jeopardizes their future career prospects and also hinders their potential contributions to our nation’s growth and development. To secure the future of our nation we need to also secure the future of our children. It is highly critical that we make all efforts to remove the usage of these illegal and banned devices from our society. I fully support Mothers Against Vaping in their mission to remove the influence of these addictive devices from the lives of our children,” Kushboo added.

Kishwar Desai, Author and Columnist who joined the event said, “With sleek electronic devices captivating children’s attention nowadays, they are often drawn to try them out—whether to appear cool, satisfy curiosity or as a means to express themselves. But this is a dangerous road. As mothers, citizens and thought leaders, it is our duty to hold up a mirror to them and convey that this road only leads to disaster and a life unfulfilled.”

The government over the years has proactively taken steps to address this issue, however, the unscrupulous elements continue to find new ways, and therefore there is a need to strengthen the enforcement framework; and one step in that direction could be to substantially increase the penal provisions against the perpetrators.


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