WHO releases toolkit to reduce pediatric tobacco use

June 5, 2020

As tobacco use among children and adolescents continues to be a public health problem, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a toolkit to help this group say “no” to using tobacco.

Although the use of tobacco among children and teenagers had previously been declining, the advent of vaping has led to an increase, necessitating new tactics to prevent its use. In observation of World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization has released a toolkit to help children and teenagers understand how the tobacco industry works and to encourage them to think critically.1 The toolkit’s lessons can be taught by teachers or parents either in the classroom or in the home.

The toolkit includes a myth-busting quiz for teachers or parents to present orally. It includes questions on how nicotine is addictive, whether hookahs and electronic cigarettes are harmful to health, and what type of media provides the most exposure to tobacco usage. Each question also provides further information to help bust each myth.

Another section of the toolkit involves understanding how the tobacco industry works and tactics it uses to entice young persons. The activity for the session recommends having children put themselves in the shoes of the industry and try to come up with new tactics to get new customers. After developing these new tactics, the activity has children reflecting on how their new tactics could be used to sell something deadly.

The final activity in the toolkit is for developing assertive ways to resist industry and peer persuasion to use tobacco-containing products. The activity includes a role-playing exercise in which one child plays the “persuader” and another child plays the “refuser” and uses common tactics such as saying no outright, using humor, or changing the subject.

For children and teenagers who want more information, the toolkit also provides a resource list that includes student-led organizations around the world that are dedicated to a tobacco-free world.

References:

1.    World Health Organization (WHO). Create-your-own World No Tobacco Day Workshop. Published May 31, 2020. Accessed June 2, 2020. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/campaigns-and-initiatives/world-no-tobacco-day-2020/wntd-workshop-toolkit.pdf?sfvrsn=9ea1b842_8