Pro-Smoking Apps on Your Child's Phone?

Smoking promoted with smartphone applications

(RxWiki News) There is an app for absolutely everything these days. This platform allows promotions for tobacco with no age-restricted access on both Apple and Android smartphones.

A recent study searched for pro-smoking smartphone applications. Researchers found 107 pro-smoking applications in early 2012 and six million downloads on the Android Market alone.

"Check out what your kids are downloading."

Lyndal Trevena, PhD, Associate Dean, and Nasser BinDihm, PhD candidate, at the School of Public Health at Sydney Medical School in Australia, led investigations into tobacco promoting smartphone applications (apps).

The research team searched for pro-smoking smartphone apps in both the Apple App Store and Android Market in February 2012.

Authors did a search for keywords: “smoke,” “cigarette,” “cigar,” “smoking” and “tobacco.” Non-tobacco related apps were left out of the study data.

A total of 107 pro-smoking apps were found and placed in six different categories: smoking simulation (48); brands (42); cigarette battery monitors (9), phone wallpaper (1); and pro-smoking, roll-your-own instruction (1).

The Android Market had 42 pro-smoking apps with six million users.

There were smoking apps included in the study claiming to help with smoking cessation. Smoking cessation apps were only included if they had questionable headings, such as, “lifestyle,” “entertainment” or “games.”

The authors said, “Tobacco products are being promoted in the new ‘smartphone app’ medium which has global reach, a huge consumer base of various age groups and underdeveloped regulation.”

Article 13 of The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) bans tobacco product promotion or advertising in the media.

These apps are in direct violation of Article 13.

Authors said, “Pro-smoking content, including explicit cigarette brand images, is promoted in smartphone apps, which are reaching millions of users, including teenagers and children. App stores need to explore ways of regulating this content.”

This study was published in October in Tobacco Control.

No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Review Date: 
October 25, 2012