Just when you thought you knew what was being marketed to your kids and how...a new study has found that pro-smoking smartphone apps are emerging as the latest tool for marketers and the latest trend among kids.

 

The study, published in the journal Tobacco Control,  looked at the smartphone apps currently available and found that many offer a pro-smoking message while being directly marketed to kids.  Researchers from the University of Sydney found 42 pro-smoking apps in Google's Android Market and 65 in the Apple App Store for a total of 107 pro-smoking apps available on smartphones.  Most of these apps were free to download and appealed to kids by using cartoons and games.  Some even featured overt images of specific cigarette brands.

 

In one example - the game "Puff Puff Pass" asks users to click on the game's cartoon characters to make them smoke and pass the cigarette to other characters. Other apps allow users to simulate smoking by holding the phone near the mouth and using the microphone to virtually smoke or set cigarette brands or images as "wallpaper" for their phone.  

 

"These apps could also easily attract teens and children due to their high quality graphics and availability under the 'Game' and 'Entertainment' categories in the app stores. Pro-smoking apps that show that smoking is 'cool' in a cartoon game, and provide a chance to explore the available cigarette brands and even simulate the smoking experience with high quality, free apps could potentially increase teens' risk of smoking initiation," the study concludes.

 

The survey was conducted in February, 2012.  

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