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Smartphone Apps Market Cigarettes To Kids

A new study published in the journal Tobacco Control suggests smartphone applications are an emerging means of marketing cigarettes to kids. The study, conducted in February, found 107 pro-smoking apps in Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market. Most of the pro-smoking apps are free to download, many appeal to kids by using cartoons and games, and some feature explicit images of cigarette brands such as Marlboro, the researchers found.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney, the study found 42 pro-smoking apps in the Android Market and 65 in the Apple App Store.  There are "smoking simulation" apps, including a cartoon game called "Puff Puff Pass" where the user clicks on game characters to make them smoke and pass the cigarette to other characters.  This app depicts smoking as a fun activity with friends. Other apps allow users to smoke a cigarette virtually by holding the phone near the mouth and using the microphone; to set cigarette brands or images as "wallpaper" for the phone; or to show a burning cigarette on the phone screen.

Because of their high quality graphics and availability apps can, according to the study, attact teens and kids to the games, which are under 'Game' and 'Entertainment' categories in the app stores.  

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