Warren Lynam

Tobacco industry accused of using apps to lure children

IT MAY only be a game to most people, but to Rockhampton's Emily Christie it could be the first stage of a lifelong battle with a nicotine addiction.

The University of Sydney has found apps featuring pro-smoking content have gained more than 11 million users worldwide, with a majority of them believed to be children.

There are a number of pro-smoking apps available, all of them simulating the burning of a cigarette.

Some have even made a game out of the speed the user can "roll" and "smoke" the cigarette.

Emily, who is a CQUniversity student, said she believed these apps sent the wrong message to children.

"I like to let people make up their own minds about issues like this, but I think when it's in the hands of children, it could definitely be a negative influence," she said.

At just 19, Emily said she had already seen the side effects that smoking could cause, having lost a close family member to a smoking related health problem.

"It's really difficult to see someone so close to you go through that, which is why I have the stance I do about smoking. But really I can't see why anybody would want to use these apps," she said.

Cancer Council Queensland's Tobacco Programs team leader Rachel Hull also voiced her concerns about the abundance of the apps.

"It is alarming, but unfortunately not surprising, that the tobacco industry is using the latest technology to market its deadly product.

"With Australia's world-first tobacco plain packaging laws coming into effect from December 1 this year, the tobacco industry will seek new opportunities to continue to recruit new smokers.

"The tobacco industry's use of smartphone apps is an obvious appeal to tempt young people into trying cigarettes."

Queensland Health figures estimate that 32,000 Queensland school children aged 12 to 17 smoke weekly.



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