BOSTON (CBS) – Kids love apps. There are all kinds of games and gadgets to keep them entertained. But now some experts say dozens of new apps that glamorize smoking may be luring young kids into lighting up.
Millions of these apps have been downloaded around the world and the American Cancer Society warns they appear to be targeting teens and children, with some rated for kids as young as 12. “90% of adults who go on to smoke throughout their lives began as children, so parents need to be aware that these are not benign or innocuous apps,” explained Dr. Thomas Glynn of the American Cancer Society.
More than 100 pro-smoking apps are available for download. They range from virtual smoke sessions to tobacco shops where you can roll your own cigarettes. Consumer researcher Connie Peshman says smoking simulation apps have sparked the most interest. “You can put the phone next to your mouth where the microphone is and inhale and exhale and see the cigarette burn down,” she said. “They make smoking look attractive and cool and edgy and fun and something you can do with your friends,” she added.
Right now the app world is largely unregulated and the Federal Trade Commission says there is no evidence any US tobacco company is involved. But Dr. Glynn says they are not doing much to try to stop it. “We do know that in a number of the apps, specific tobacco products and specific types of cigarettes are named and we have not heard any outcry from the tobacco industry about that,” he said.
Two of the largest tobacco manufacturers, RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris say they have no connection to any of the smoking apps.