The Bulletin of the World Health Organization says tobacco is marketed to children and the tobacco industry recognizes that new smokers must be recruited to replace those who quit or die of tobacco-related diseases.
"The dangers of tobacco consumption and second-hand smoke have been widely recognized, children are also harmed in less apparent ways; through hunger and malnutrition when scarce resources are diverted to tobacco purchases rather than food, exploitation of children as workers in tobacco farming and by death and injury resulting from fires caused by cigarettes," the report said.
"Almost half of the children who had never smoked were exposed to second-hand smoke both at home and outside the home."
Although most of the research on media influences of tobacco has been conducted in a few high-income countries, but distribution of free cigarettes and widespread awareness of tobacco advertisements has been demonstrated among children in Africa, the report said.
The authors of the report are all members of the American Academy of Pediatrics Tobacco Consortium.