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500,000 Asian Youth Targeted by Tobacco Companies: WHO

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Tobacco advertising that targets teens is putting half-a-billion young Asians at risk for tobacco-related diseases, says the Asia-Pacific director of the World Health Organization.

In a statement issued on the eve of the WHO-designated "World No Tobacco Day," Shigeru Omi said the tobacco industry's marketing efforts aim to persuade half-a-billion young people in the Western Pacific to try their first cigarette, Agence France-Presse reported.

"Youngsters are led to believe that certain types of cigarettes do not contain nicotine, when in fact they do," Omi said.

He restated the WHO's demand for a total ban on tobacco advertising and noted that partial bans simply allow tobacco companies to shift from one promotional strategy to another, AFP reported.

The U.N. agency spokesman accused tobacco companies of "falsely associating use of their products with desirable qualities such as glamour, energy and sex appeal, as well as exciting outdoor activities and adventure."

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