November 29, 2014 03:30 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

  • Ferguson Protest

    Video After Protests, Ferguson Looks for Answers

    On Monday, protesters burned buildings and police cars and destroyed businesses in the Midwestern U.S. city of Ferguson, Missouri. Their actions followed the announcement that a grand jury had decided not to send a white police officer to trial for shooting and killing an unarmed black teen. More

  • Video US Evangelicals Debate Homosexuality in the Bible

    An increasing number of mainline Christian groups are also accepting same-sex unions. But most evangelical Christians say the Bible condemns sexual relations among people of the same sex. Now, a well-known student of evangelicalism is saying that the traditional reading of the Bible is wrong. More

  • An oil derrick is seen at a fracking site for extracting oil outside of Williston, North Dakota March 11, 2013.  North Dakota's booming oil business has quickly ran up against a serious shortage of housing for the thousands of workers who have poured into

    Audio Falling Oil Prices Affect Nations Differently

    Oil prices have dropped 30 percent since June. Increased American oil production is one reason for the drop in world oil prices. Nigeria has announced measures the government would take to increase income. But, in India the lower oil prices have helped ease inflation. More

  • Audio North Korea Warns of Punishment for US, Allies

    North Korea said it would punish countries that supported a UN resolution condemning North Korea's human rights record. The recent U.N. committee vote called on the Security Council to send North Korea to the International Criminal Court for suspected violations, including torture and murder. More

  • A Libyan military soldier fires his weapon during clashes with Islamic extremist militias in Benghazi, Libya, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. Government troops entered central Benghazi Wednesday after nearly 10 days of fighting Islamic extremist militias, a mili

    Audio Unrest, Abuse Prevent Solution in Libya

    Amnesty International is condemning all sides in Libya for human rights abuses and violations of international law. The rights group is calling on militia commanders to end the abuses. But that call is unlikely to have much of an effect on the commanders, who have never been punished. More

Featured Stories

  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay

    Video 'Hunger Games' Expected to Top Holiday Ticket Sales

    'Mockingjay - Part 1' is the third in the four part movie series. It earned about $123 million in its opening weekend. Not bad, but millions less than tickets sales in the release weekend of the first two 'Hunger Games' films. What explains the drop in audience interest? More

  • Battle of Cold Harbor

    Audio Strong Defense at Cold Harbor Gives Lee His Last Major Victory

    After Northern forces defeated Southern troops at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Vicksburg, Mississippi, General Ulysses Grant decided to hit the Confederates with the full force of the Union armies. The fight did not go as he expected. But General Grant was resolved to defeat the Confederates. More

  • Alzheimer brain

    Audio East Meets West to Treat Alzheimer's Patients

    But researchers in California say a new way of treating Alzheimer’s disease is showing promise for reversing some of that memory loss. The new treatment combines western medicine with eastern philosophy – ideas rooted in Asian religions. More

  • Mr. Van Rijsselberghe worked on the project with scientists from the Free University of Amsterdam.

    Video Dutch Experiment Grows Vegetables in Sea Water

    Due to rising sea level, farmers are increasingly unable to use fields close to the sea. A farmer in the Netherlands is growing small, but healthy and tasty crops in a mixture of fresh and salt water. Farmers in Pakistan may soon be growing Dutch potatoes in areas affected by rising sea waters. More

  • Jonathan Evans Performs with Bonerama

    Video With Bonerama, Three Trombones Lead the Big Parade

    The New Orleans-based group brings together funk, rock, blues and jazz, creating a gumbo for the ears. Bonerama has horns like many bands. But, unlike most groups, the trombone players lead this band. Reporter Jonathan Evans performed with the band and wrote about it for American Mosaic. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs