Tobacco companies continue to actively target young people through social media, sports and music events, as well as through new flavored products, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed on Thursday. The organization accused these companies of attempting to ensnare a new generation in nicotine addiction.

As regulations on traditional cigarettes grow stricter, major tobacco firms and new players have introduced smoking alternatives like vapes, claiming these are intended for adult smokers. However, the WHO highlighted that these products are frequently marketed towards the youth demographic. It emphasized that the design and array of fruity flavors appeal to children, leading to higher usage among young people globally than among adults.

WHO's Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated, "History is repeating itself, but in a different form. The same nicotine with a different packaging." He dismissed the industry's assertion of working towards harm reduction, emphasizing that marketing to children contradicts this claim.

Ruediger Krech, WHO's Director of Health Promotion, added, "The use of child-friendly flavors such as cotton candy and bubblegum, coupled with sleek, colorful designs reminiscent of toys, is a blatant effort to addict young individuals to these harmful products."

The WHO's intensified stance on newer nicotine products follows a substantial surge in youth vaping in various countries. The organization attributed this phenomenon in part to the extensive range of fruity and sweet flavors available. Major tobacco companies and new players producing vapes and other smoking alternatives assert that flavors are crucial in persuading adult smokers to transition to alternative products. However, the WHO emphasized that the industry employs various tactics targeting children, including sponsorship of music and sports events, utilization of social media, and product placement in TV shows and games. In regions where traditional advertising is restricted, in-person events also serve as an avenue for companies to distribute free samples and promote their brands to younger audiences.