‘Knowledge is power’, goes the adage. Here is an instance of knowledge being destructive power.

Findings of a U.S. study suggest that 66 percent of the children in developing countries are aware of at least one brand or logo of a cigarette.

The rate of smoking amongst adults is already the highest in the world in these nations. The latest study suggests that the future would not be too propitious as marketing endeavors of tobacco companies has reached five to six year olds in these countries.

The said research has been jointly carried out in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Russia by researchers from the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study
For the purpose of the study, the researchers asked children aged between five and six to match different pictures with the logos of the companies manufacturing them.

86 percent of the children in China, the most populous country of the world, managed to identify at least one cigarette brand logo followed by Pakistan where 84 percent of the children could do so.

The fact that children residing in households where nobody smoked could also identify cigarette logos alarmed the researchers.

Dina Borzekowski, lead author of the study and research professor in the University of Maryland said that young children see such logos “in their homes, the neighborhood stores where the children visit have very prominent tobacco advertisements.”

The findings of the study underscore the importance of making and enforcing stringent regulations for tobacco advertising. The study researchers have suggested that larger graphic warning labels on cigarette packages was the need of the hour.

It is well known that awareness and likelihood of smoking are directly linked.

“If we want to reduce smoking, especially among young people, we need to lessen the prominence of tobacco brands in children’s lives. Better enforcement of existing laws should happen,” concluded Borzekowski.

Way back in 1991, a similar study had found that more than 90 percent of the young children could correctly match Joe Camel with the cigarette brand. That is the percentage of children who can identify Mickey Mouse with the Disney Channel logo.

The findings of the study have been published in journal Pediatrics

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