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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 June; 61(6): 490.
PMCID: PMC2465735

Children's exposure to tobacco

Although selling tobacco to children <16 years is not allowed, tobacco vendomats are widespread in Germany. By 2007 tobacco vendomats will be equipped with a mechanism that will make it impossible for children to get cigarettes. The technical solution chosen, however, does not guarantee the latter.

Young Germans mostly begin smoking between the ages of 11 and 16 years.1 The prevalence of smoking among children and youth has risen since the 90s and is now around 20% of their total population.2 Tobacco vendomats represent the main source of cigarettes for children and youth.3On taking a short walk around the quarter where I live in Hamburg, I found at least 10 tobacco vendomats placed near a school (in a radius of 200 m). Some were located right in front of public playgrounds, and others were close to the entrance of kindergartens, or a centre for youth counselling, some beside candy vendomats and some situated very low down. None of the vendomats displayed any warning about the risks of smoking, nor mentioned that the sale of tobacco to young people is prohibited.

One of the principles of health promotion is to facilitate healthy choices.4 However, it should be also be to render unhealthy choices more difficult… everywhere.

figure ch54650.f1
Figure 1 Tobacco vendomat beside a candy vendomat.
figure ch54650.f2
Figure 2 Tobacco vendomat less than 10 m away from a kindergarten.
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Figure 3 Tobacco vendomat hung about 50 cm above the ground.
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Figure 4 Tobacco vendomat close to a public playground.

References

1. Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung Die Drogenaffinität Jugendlicher in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 2001 [Drug‐Affinity of Youth in the Federal Republic of Germany 2001]. Cologne: Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung, 2001
2. Schulze A, Lampert T. Bundes‐Gesundheitssurvey: Soziale Unterschiede im Rauchverhalten und in der Passivrauchbelastung in Deutschland [Federal Health Survey: Social Inequalities in Smoking and Passive Smoking Burden in Germany]. Berlin: Robert‐Koch‐Institut, 2006
3. Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung Familie, Frauen und Gesundheit Gesundheitsverhalten von Jugendlichen in Bayern: Ein Überblick über die repräsentativen Jugendgesundheitsstudien in Bayern von 1973 bis heute [Health Attitudes of Youth in Bavaria: Overview of representative Youth Health Surveys in Bavaria from 1973 up to date]. München: Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung Familie, Frauen und Gesundheit, 1997
4. World Health Organisation Ottawa Charter for health promotion. Geneva: World Health Organisation, 1986

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