Anti-Smoking Campaigns Launched In Eight Countries to Mark World No Tobacco Day


A smoke-free poster at a bus stop in Yunnan

Eight campaigns and initiatives aimed at encouraging people to quit smoking were launched this week by Vital Strategies and partners to mark World No Tobacco Day on 31 May 2021. 

Tobacco use is the single greatest source of preventable death and disease worldwide – responsible for eight million deaths each year and the theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day was “commit to quit.” 

José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies

“Now is the time for bold, comprehensive action on tobacco. COVID-19’s tragic toll has fuelled vulnerabilities from decades of under-investment and inattention to prevention and preparedness, including more than a billion people more susceptible to illness because of current tobacco use,” said Jose Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies, in a statement

Vital Strategies’ World No Tobacco Day campaigns support policies to discourage and reduce smoking, and to keep the industry out of tobacco control legislation, reaching millions around the world. 

India – “When You Quit” Campaign

Vital Strategies and WHO India launched the campaign, “When You Quit” on national radio stations and on digital television platforms, and disseminated a communications toolkit with social media resources to communicate the harms of tobacco use. 

Indonesia – New Smoke-Free Laws 

In Bandung, Indonesia, Mayor H Oded Muhammad Danial unveiled a new smoke-free law that prohibits smoking in seven types of public spaces. Bandung, with its smoke-free law, was part of the many cities that participated in the Partnership for Healthy Cities global network supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with WHO and Vital Strategies.   

Philippines – Running to Quit

The Philippines Department of Health and Vital launched a virtual ‘Smoke-Free Challenge’, where participants competed in virtual distance-based activities, such as running, walking, and swimming, promoting health activities. 

China – Promotion of Smoke-Free Policies 

Vital Strategies promoted smoke-free policies in China with two public service announcements, “Cigarettes are Eating Your Baby Alive” and “Smoke-Free Family”, reaching more than one million people through an online event organized with the National Health Commission. 

Vital also worked with the Yunnan Health Education Center and Health Education Association to provide posters on the importance of smoke-free policies for 200,000 posters bulletin boards across the province. Other cities in China also launched social and mass-media campaigns. 

Ukraine – Tobacco Use and Risks From COVID-19

“A Doctor’s Warning” is a new media campaign on tobacco use and COVID-19 launched in Ukraine, in partnership with the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health and the NGO Life Advocacy Center. The campaign featured a testimonial from a prominent doctor on how smoking increases the risk of COVID-19. 

Vietnam and Bangladesh – Protecting Loved Ones From Secondhand Smoke

In Vietnam, “Quit Smoking to Protect Your Loved Ones,” recounts the story of Le Thi Tinh, who developed lung cancer after regular exposure to secondhand smoke in her home. The campaign is run on national television channels and on the Smoke-Free Vietnam Facebook page through June.  

In Bangladesh, the government aired the public service announcement, “Smoke-Free” homes for six weeks on the state-owned television channel, Bangladesh Television. The messaging focused on the importance of quitting smoking to protect loved ones from secondhand smoke, and was supplemented by posts to the Facebook page, Stop Tobacco Bangladesh. 

Brazil – Ending Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems 

The Brazilian Medical Association and Cancer Foundation launched a social media campaign focused on the importance of banning ENDS in Brazil and pushing back against industry efforts to overturn it. 

The Facebook live launch event of “Quit Smoking to Protect Your Loved Ones” in Vietnam

Stopping Tobacco Industry Interference in National Policy

Castro urged governments to enact policies that support healthier choices for all, especially through the use of effective tobacco control laws, such as the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). 

“For our healthiest future, we must act to shape our society and our environment to support health,” he said, adding that this includes contending with persuasive marketing from the tobacco industry and the influence of the industry on government policies. 

The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2020, released by STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products), also showed that the tobacco industry has been using the pandemic to promote itself through donations of necessary goods, in order to gain a foothold in tobacco policies of national governments.  

Pakistan health authorities continue in their struggle to implement the FCTC, though the treaty was signed in 2004. In addition, tobacco control activists fear that the government has given in to industry pressure to close down its only government body addressing tobacco consumption, the Tobacco Control Cell (TCC). 

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government, earlier this year, had issued a directive requiring the tobacco industry to register all nicotine products as tobacco products. 

The Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) had also called on the government to act fast, as tobacco use is a bigger epidemic than COVID-19, and requested the Ministry of Health to tighten tobacco control regulations. 

“Tobacco use continues to kill at least 9,000 Kenyans every year. This is three times the total number of Kenyans killed by Covid-19 in the last one year. By Sunday, May 30, 2021, Covid-19 had killed 3,157 Kenyans,” said Joel Gitali, chairman of the KETCA.



Image Credits: Vital Strategies, Vital Strategies.

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