In Asian countries anti-smoking researchers found a lot of illegal cheap cigarettes advertisings, promotions and sponsorships, and even cigarette firms look to the region for profitable new markets.
Some 60 percent of the world’s population and about 65 percent of young people live in Asia, making it a money-spinning area for tobacco companies who have seen demand fall in developed countries.
Yet despite most countries in the region having ratified a World Health Organization convention on tobacco control, enforcement of advertising bans is patchy, allowing embrasures to be exploited.
Doctor Pankaj Chaturvedi, a Mumbai-based cancer surgeon and member of the Action Council against Tobacco India lobby group, welcomed steps to ban smoking in public places and to outlaw direct advertising by tobacco firms.
But indirect, or “surrogate,” advertising, promotion and sponsorship by tobacco companies for non-tobacco products or events was still a “very big issue” and needed to be implemented, he said.
The practice - such as producing fashion lines under the company name - keeps the tobacco product in the public mind and “legitimises” it, Chaturvedi told AFP at the 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health.
Chaturvedi called realization and enforcement of laws against obscure tobacco advertising in places like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Greater public awareness about the dangers of smoking was needed, while litigation against illegal tobacco advertising would act as a deterrent to firms trying to flout the law, researchers added.