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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: To evaluate the development of tobacco industry's “youth smoking prevention” programs in Latin America, and to compare them with those launched in United States.
Methods: Analysis of internal tobacco industry documents through the University of California San Francisco Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu) and British American Tobacco Documents Archive (http://bat.library.ucsf.edu), local newspapers and magazines, Internet resources, and information provided by Latin American tobacco control advocates.
Results: The tobacco industry has been promoting worldwide its “youth smoking prevention” programs since the early 1980s. In Latin America, as in other developing countries, Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco, working with their local affiliates, introduced similar programs during the early 1990s. By 1997, PMI had developed a five-point program, which included local cigarette marketing codes, sampling guidelines, minimum age of purchase laws, retailer (“I do not sell cigarettes to minors under 18”) and education programs (“I have the POWER”). To promote its programs in the participating countries, the tobacco industry has been very successful in partnering with third parties such as local non-profit educational organizations. The industry also obtained the co-sponsorship of the national retailer associations, the national media associations, and the endorsement of public officials and national authorities in several countries (Ministries of Education, Health, and Justice). These voluntary initiatives have been extensively proven to be ineffective to prevent youth smoking and to decrease youth smoking prevalence. These programs allowed the tobacco industry to counteract effective antismoking regulations while appearing to be “socially responsible” corporate citizens.