October 26, 2014 05:04 UTC

Science & Technology

Are Smartphone Apps Encouraging Young Smokers?

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

Some of the apps even simulate smokingSome of the apps even simulate smoking
x
Some of the apps even simulate smoking
Some of the apps even simulate smoking

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report in Special English.
 
Public health officials say tobacco companies are avoiding a worldwide ban on advertising tobacco products to young people by using smartphone applications, or “apps.” The officials say some of the apps are designed to persuade young people to start smoking.

Armando Peruga works for the World Health Organization’s Tobacco-Free Initiative. He recently discovered one such pro-smoking app online.
 
“I was taken aback by a game that is called ‘Puff, Puff, Pass,’ which is (an) application that’s a cartoon game where the user must click on game characters to order them to smoke and pass the cigarette to the other characters. And the user collects points if he or she continues passing the cigarette in the same sequence at a fast pace. Obviously, that can only be directed at very young kids.”
                       
Millions of people around the world now have smartphones, and many of them are children.
 
Researchers in Australia searched the Apple and Android app stores using words like “smoke,” “smoking,” “cigar,” “cigarette,” and “tobacco.” They found more than one hundred apps linked to those words. The apps included not only games and social utilities, but advertisements for tobacco products, and information about where the products could be purchased.
 
Forty-two of the apps were from the Android store. Together, they had been downloaded six million times.  

The most popular Android apps were those that simulate smoking. The apps let users smoke a virtual cigarette and produce visual effects of the cigarette being burned and smoked. Some of the simulation apps claim to aid in quiting smoking. 
 
Armando Peruga said the names of some of the apps are very misleading.
 
“These apps -- which are, the study identified about a hundred seven of these pro-smoking apps -- are classified under names such as health and fitness and just…games which are very misleading, and anyone can access, especially young kids.”
                
The Australian researchers believe these pro-smoking smartphone applications violate the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The convention bans all advertising and promotion of tobacco products in the media, in countries that have signed the treaty. The researchers say the app stores have a moral -- and possibly legal -- responsibility to honor the convention and other laws that ban the advertising of tobacco products to young people.
 
The report on pro-tobacco smartphone applications was published in the journal Tobacco Control.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tanet Sin from: Thailand
11/18/2012 5:09 AM
The children who under 18 year should not play this app . Becuase those app will be activate children for smoking .


by: Yang from: Canada
11/09/2012 3:52 PM
It's true that young people are easy to be misleading so the ads about tobacco products should be banned on anywhere.


by: kika from: spain
11/07/2012 9:17 PM
It´s almost imposible" to erase "tobacco of the world.In Spain you can´t smoke everywhere, even next to a child park.But the rate of smokers is the same


by: Shige from: Japan
11/07/2012 6:59 AM
It is obvious these pro-smoking apps have effect on young kids. On the other hand, it is useful for a person who is quitting smoking as a aid.

I think not all pro-smoking apps is bad. But, I cannot decide what is bad thing.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/05/2012 8:24 AM
Regulation and violation is ususally a cat-and-mouse game.I think it would be impossible for anyone to compel both tobacco companies and online stores to give up selling tobacco-related apps even something to persuade kids to smoke because there exists golden principle of freedom of expression for anyone in our democratic society. So what we can do is at best only ask them not to sell such pro-smoking apps relying on their moral with no punishment. I'm sure it's important to search these kinds of apps against pubric benefits and inform the public.

In Response

by: Mahmoud Dahroug from: Portsaid, Egypt
11/08/2012 2:59 PM
I partly agree with you Yoshi. Yes, for sure we can not stop a malpractice entirely. But we can regulate strictly and cancel the license of those lawbreakers. And it is NOT against the "golden principle of freedom." For freedom must not be a violation of morality.

In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/13/2012 1:02 PM
Hi Mahmond Dahroung, thank you very much for your kind comment all the way from Egypt. It's great honor for me to have attention from far a way from mid east. I sincerely appreciate VOA for offering us to contact colleagues across the world. I completely agree with you, freedom must not be a violation of morality. And yet, may ask you what means morality in your country, Egypt, possibly Islamic? I have no clue to imagine it because Egypt is a far country from Japan. I think, probably, freedom is for the sake of individuals and morality is for the sake of society of others. The problembs seem which we regard more important freedom or morality, in other words, myself or others. It seems too difficult for me to answer it easily. I would love to ask you which do you make place more importance in individuals or others in Egypt.


Learn with The News

  • Anti-Occupy Central protesters (L) try to remove a barricade from pro-democracy protesters on a main street in Hong Kong's Mongkok shopping district October 4, 2014.

    Audio US Group Rejects Claims It Incited Hong Kong Protests

    Chinese media have been criticizing the National Endowment for Democracy. They accuse the US-based group of providing money to and advising the “Occupy” street protest movement. The group says it takes part in normal cooperation with civic groups in Hong Kong. But it says it has nothing to hide. More

  • A rocket carrying the SpaceX Dragon ship lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, April 18, 2014.

    Audio You Don't Have to Be a Rocket Scientist to Read This

    "You do not need to be a rocket scientist." Americans hear these words often. People say them in schools, offices and factories. Broadcasters on radio and television use them. How did the expression begin? No one seems to know for sure. But you can find out by reading this Words and Their Stories. More

  • Audio Control of US Senate Depends on North Carolina

    U.S. congressional elections are less than two weeks away. A small number of races will decide if the Democratic party keeps control of the U.S. Senate or if Republicans will have a majority. One of the closest Senate races is in the state of North Carolina between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis. More

  • Freed Vietnamese dissident Nguyen Van Hai (L) is greeted upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport on October  21, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  The Vietnamese blogger, also known by his pen name "Dieu Cay," was handed a 12-year prison sentenc

    Audio Legality of Vietnamese Blogger’s Release Questioned

    Nguyen Van Hai arrived in the United States on Wednesday. Hai is one of Vietnam’s best known political bloggers. He has written about government corruption and the country’s territorial dispute with China. The United States was among several foreign governments to call for his release. More

  • A miner sifts through dirt for gold flakes at the Atunso Cocoase small-scale mine, Atunsu, Ghana, Oct. 16, 2014. (Chris Stein/VOA)

    Audio Gold Mining in Ghana Can Be Dangerous

    Small mining operations are a common sight in central Ghana. Here, mine workers dig deep into the earth in search of bullion. But not everyone returns alive. Earlier this year, six miners were killed when an earthen wall collapsed in Kyekyewere, a village in the Ashanti Region. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Oscar de la Renta Dressed First Ladies and Movie Stars

    Clothing designer Oscar de la Renta died Monday at his home in the American state of Connecticut. He was 82 years old. His wife said he died of problems related to cancer. Mr. de la Renta dressed American movie stars and first ladies such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton. More

  • Audio Iron Ships Clash at Sea

    The American Civil War was fought not only on land, but at sea. In 1862, Confederate and Union forces fought a new kind of navy battle in waters off Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was the first battle between iron ships. On the Confederate side was a ship called the Virginia. | The Making of a Nation More

  • Audio San Francisco Radio Stations Ban Lorde's 'Royals'

    The California baseball team, San Francisco Giants, is playing the Kansas City Royals for the 2014 Major League Baseball championship, the World Series. Two radio stations in San Francisco banned the hit song "Royals." In return, another station in Kansas City chose to play the song once every hour. More

  • A neurovascular unit on a chip being developed by Vanderbilt University researchers. (Vanderbilt University Photo/John Wikswo)

    Video Scientists Design Chips to Act Like Human Organs

    Testing new drugs for safety and effectiveness is a costly process in the United States. It also can take a lot of time. Some scientists are now designing silicon computer chips that act like human organs. The scientists think they have found a way to make the process faster and more economical. More

  • Brain Resource Infographic

    Audio Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions

    Five million American children and teenagers have Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD. ADHD makes it difficult - if not impossible - to stay with a duty until it is complete. Katherine Ellison knows the problem well. | Health Report More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs