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Archive for June, 2013

World No Tobacco Day in the Western Pacific

29 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor


Report credit: Annabel Lyman, FCA Pacific Island Countries Coordinator

Every year, WHO recognizes individuals or organisations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. There were 6 awardees in the Western Pacific region this year including the Cook Islands Ministry of Health. The Cook Islands ratified the FCTC in 2004, and was the first Pacific Island country to produce and work toward a national Tobacco Control Action Plan. Among other successes, areas where the country has made great strides in the past year include a tobacco tax increase and successful launch of a unique Blue Ribbon campaign.

Several countries participated in a project designed to encourage sharing of information by email.  Participating countries chose a letter from W, N, T or D to display as part of their activities with a flag in the photo.  The intention is to make a poster of tobacco control in the Pacific by “stitching” the photos together featuring the letters to spell out WNTD 2013.

A full report and pictures of activities in many of the countries in the region can be downloaded here: WNTD booklet – pacific

Highlights include:

  • Cook Islands – The ministry of health sponsored a poem and story competition as well as quizzes at Titi-kaveka College and Avarua school, with prizes for winning students. The MOH promoted tips on how to stop smoking and how to prevent youth from starting.
  • Palau – a run was held promoting WNTD. The letter W was chosen to promote the event; as runners/walkers crossed the finish line, they received their W. Taped to the back was a raffle ticket.
  • Federated States of Micronesia Kosrae – a policy makers’ advocacy meeting was held to discuss Article 13 of the FCTC, and a plan was developed to push for passage of a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Niue – Led by Miss Niue contestants, school children created slogans, cheers and dances. The Director of Health and Minister of Health joined in with an impromptu comedy piece, and the Minister committed to championing the passage of a Tobacco Control Bill.
  • Papua New Guinea – primary school students developed a banner and posters, which were then used in a walk. This was followed by a series of drama performances and poem readings.
  • Marshall Islands – national and local police teamed up with tobacco control coalition team members to remove all tobacco advertising and promotion signs and illegal point of sales displays and replace them with WNTD posters provided by WHO in Fiji. There was also a walkathon, followed by a ‘battle of the bands’ for the best song about health. The winning band will record their song and have it broadcast on the radio.
  • Samoa – a bike ride around the island was the culmination of a week of campaigning and advocating for smoke free buildings.
  • Tuvalu – a week of community awareness was undertaken in schools, workplaces, community halls and businesses. On WNTD itself, two government officials were part of a radio broadcast as Quit Smoking Champions.
  • Solomon Islands – following a range of public awareness raisings activities in the lead up to WNTD, a public parade was held, with speeches by government officials, the WHO representative, and a youth representative. There was also a singing performance and live radio talk. Champion awards were presented to advocates of the SI tobacco free initiative, including government agencies, a church, taxi service and global youth leadership group.
  • Vanuatu – soccer and volleyball tournaments were held for young people. There was also an official event with speakers from the ministry of health and WHO, which was broadcast on national radio.
  • Tonga – The main hospital was launched as the first tobacco free hospital in Tonga. This was covered by both television and radio, and was complemented by billboard displays at the hospital and near the airport. A school was also launched as the first tobacco free school.
  • Kiribati – as the first tobacco act was passed in April 2013, this formed the theme for Kiribati, ‘Support Tobacco Act’ (Kaota am boutoka nakon te Tua ibukin Kauarerekean Kabonganaan te Baake iaon Kiribati.) To raise awareness, activities included radio shows, press releases, awareness programs, a smoke free basketball tournament and public program with a drama show, health check and quiz.
  • Fiji – promotion of new cessation assistance services was held at a health centre, along with news about new pictorial health warnings and tobacco free sites. A skit about the physical and social impacts of tobacco use was performed by a local youth group in collaboration with nursing school students.

Romania World No Tobacco Day: ‘Ex-smokers are unstoppable’

29 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor


Photos and report credit: European Commission (

World No Tobacco Day in Romania highlighted the European Commission’s Ex-smokers are unstoppable’ campaign. A media roundtable was held, where two doctors discussed the benefits of smoking cessation. Two ex-smokers also shared their personal stories of quitting smoking. The event was attended by numerous media representatives, and obtained massive print, online, radio and TV coverage in Romania.

The event drew on the findings of a study conducted through the ‘ex-smokers are unstoppable’ campaign. Professor Doctor Florin Mihaltan, President of the Romanian Lung Society and one of the doctors who spoke at the roundtable, said: “The European Commission’s Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable campaign, through which this study was conducted, shifts the main focus from the dangers of smoking to the benefits of smoking cessation. These numbers illustrate the realities of life as a smoker, as well as an increase in people’s desire to quit.”

Romania pic 1





Professor Dr Florin Mihaltan (centre) with ex-smokers Cristina Matei (l) and Iulia Pop (r)

The majority of smokers who took part in the survey say that they smoke between 70 and 140 cigarettes per week (10-20 cigarettes per day), a figure which applies to 32.4% of Romanian smokers. Over half of Romanian smokers (56.3%) say that they want to quit their habit within a year. 80% of Romanians believe that willpower is the key to quitting while 43% identify motivation as the most important factor.

About 28% of Romanian smokers find it difficult to resist the urge to smoke when they are enjoying tea or coffee. 27% have a hard time socialising with other smokers when trying to quit, while 22% are most tempted by the “morning cigarette”. When asked how they would feel if they never smoked again, 42% of Romanians said that they would feel proud. Another 42% believe they would feel healthier and more in control of their health.  Over half of the 1,000 people questioned in Romania believe that smoking gets in the way of certain activities and 20% of respondents believe that smoking affects sporting performance. Half of smokers even avoid flying because of their habit.

Doctor Ioana Munteanu, President of the Tobacco Section of the Romanian Lung Society, who also spoke at the roundtable, said “Where the process of quitting smoking is concerned, it is very important for us to be aware of both the internal and the external factors which facilitate it. It is very interesting to see that a very large proportion of the respondents believe that the secret of quitting resides within themselves. Motivation plays a very important role, and identifying its sources represents the key to success when going through a nicotine withdrawal episode.”

Romania pic 2





Dr Ioana Munteanu (l) and ex-smoker Iulia Pop.


The European Commission’s “Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable” campaign inspires smokers to kick the habit by celebrating the achievements of ex-smokers from all over Europe. It offers people free help to stop smoking through iCoach, a free online stop-smoking tool based on extensive scientific research and clinical experience of psychologists and communication experts. Since the launch of the programme in June 2011, a total of 380,819 Europeans have registered to iCoach 22,325 of whom are Romanians. Romania ranks 4th among EU countries for total iCoach registrations. The self-reported quit rate for people signing up to iCoach is 40%. This is the proportion of people who classed themselves as a non-smoker after 3 months on the programme.

World No Tobacco Day Vietnam: social media, a bike rally and public transport get the message out

29 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor


Contributors and photos: Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance; Stephen Hamill, World Lung Foundation; Tran Vu, Vietnam Public Health Association; Nguyen Xuan Lam, Vietnam Public Health Association.

The national week of Tobacco Control in Vietnam kicked off with a ceremony held on 25 May. Organized by the Vietnam Committee on Smoking or Health (VINACOSH), it attracted 450 participants from the National Assembly, Government Offices, related Ministries, WHO Vietnam, Tobacco Control Working Groups, mass media and students.

Dr Sarah England from Bloomberg Philanthropies expressed congratulations for the approval of Vietnam’s new tobacco control law and conveyed an official letter of Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York city to the Vietnam Prime Minister for the great achievements of Vietnam in curbing the tobacco epidemic. The Vice Minister of Health, Vietnam conveyed his appreciation and acknowledged the considerable support of all ministries, sectors and mass organizations, international donors (Bloomberg Philanthropies, SEATCA) for the cause of tobacco control in Vietnam. Click here to read more and see photos from the event at the SEATCA webpage.

Hà N?i: L? mít tinh hu?ng ?ng Ngày Th? gi?i Không thu?c lá (31/5







Social media for public engagement

VINACOSH, together with a coalition of Vietnamese health groups and international NGOs including the World Lung Foundation, collaborated in an innovative effort to use online media to engage the public around implementation of a new smoke-free law.

The effort combined broadcast television spots with an online petition at (‘smoke free Vietnam’) and Facebook page to grow awareness of which types of public spaces were covered by the new law, and to allow people to pledge to support the law and share the campaign with their friends through social media. The effort also included a mobile short code that allowed supporters to SMS in their support. Vietnam has 143 mobile subscribers for every 100 inhabitants, so learning how to best use mobiles to support tobacco control advocacy is very important for the success of future campaigns.

Mobile and social media efforts were particularly energised by a partnership with the Youth Union of Vietnam , a steadfast supporter of tobacco control policies in Vietnam, who sent out the word and provided ‘on the ground support’ in the form of hundreds of youth demonstrating at press conferences, attending campaign events, using social media and SMS to build supporters for the online campaign, and going business-to-business to provide smokefree signs and alert owners of their new obligations under the law. Already, almost 3000 supporters have joined the community online, and the 500 person Facebook community is growing fast, with a vibrant community – mostly high school youth – who are sharing photos and ideas about tobacco control on the page.

Hue City (Central Vietnam)

The Hue Municipal People’s Committee in collaboration with the Vietnam Public Health Association hosted WNTD and national No Tobacco Week. The launch event was held with about 300 participants from the health sector, youth union, women’s union, labour union and delegates from provincial people’s committee, city leaders, representatives from government departments and other organisations. ‘Smoke-free city’ signage on all the municipal public transportation was also organized, with 1600 public transportation vehicles including taxis, buses, passenger cars, pedicabs and tourist boats to be badged with the “smoke-free city” sign in coming weeks.

A workshop on ‘Evaluating the implementation of smoke-free program in Hue city’ was also held on May 27th. This was followed by outreach to public facilities to raise public awareness about the availability and implementation of smoke free policies in Vietnam.

Nha Trang City (Central Vietnam)

A bike parade was held on June 9th 2013 with the theme ‘Environment protection and smoke-free Nha Trang city’. Supported by Nha Trang Municipal People’s Committee in collaboration with Vietnam Public Health Association and Khanh Hoa Provincial Public Health Association, the event attracted 2000 participants including many young people, as well as Mr Takeshi Kasai, Representative of WHO in Vietnam.

There were several other events including 500 balloons dropping with the message ‘environment protection and Smoke-free Nha Trang city’; a no smoking flash mob; dancing and some entertainment shows.

Vietnam pic 2 Vietnam picture 1

Bolivia: World No Tobacco Day focuses on youth

29 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor


Translation from original Spanish article kindly provided by Stan Shatenstein.

The Bolivian news website laRazón reported that for World No Tobacco Day, the Health and Sport Ministry, in coordination with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO, the  Municipal Government of La Paz, the Bolivian Police and Armed Forces organised a  festival to inform people of the negative effects that nicotine produces on the  body. Medical school graduates of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés and Escuela Nacional de Salud also participated in the event that took place in the Plaza Camacho in La Paz, where music was provided by the group Bajo  Fianza.

The slogan chosen for this year’s WNTD was “Ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship” and this was adopted by 19 countries, including Panamá and Colombia, to reduce tobacco use. Article 13 of the FCTC establishes a “comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship” that “would reduce the consumption of  tobacco products”

The WNTD slogan will also be used in the country to stop tobacco companies from recruiting younger smokers.

A translation of the rest of the article is below (original link in Spanish here).


Study reveals young people now begin smoking at a younger  age

A study has shown that the age of initiation for smoking has gone down from  14.6 to 13.7 years of age and there has been an increase of smoking among girls  (young women).

According to data from the Latin American Centre for Scientific Study  (Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Científica, or Celin) going back two  decades, tobacco use began, on average, at 14.6 years of age while the latest  statistics, from 2011, show that Bolivian adolescents now start at 13.7 years of  age. The study by Celin also points out the increasingly problematic tobacco use by girls. Twenty years ago, 14.8% of young women smoked compared to 43.6% of young men, a gap of 28.8%. By 2011, that gap had shrunk to 9.9%.

The data were gathered in some twenty cities across the country and looked at 12,254 students between the ages of 12 and 21.

The Vice-Minister of Health Promotion, Martín Maturano, noted that the government was taking action to put a stop to tobacco use: “We first want to inform people of the health effects of smoking. Tobacco contains 3,600 substances – nearly one hundred of those are toxic – as well as nicotine, which is addictive.”

He explained that an ongoing communication policy is being implemented through college health services and also noted that eight graphic warnings had recently been added to cigarette packs showing the different risks associated with the product.

Willy Alanoca, in charge of Drug Use Prevention at the Ministry of Health pointed out the tobacco companies specifically try to hook the youngest kids.  “The Bolivian tobacco industry reaches the youngest kids by giving them CDs, iPods, backpacks and flash drives. They want to reach this audience, not 40-to-50-year-old addicted smokers. The teens are going to replace those smokers who are killed by their tobacco use or who quit.”

According to Mr Alanoca, the Ministry’s study of ‘Tobacco industry negligence and strategy in Bolivia’ gathered images of minors selling this unhealthy product. He also criticized the industry’s use of concerts and other promotional events. “It’s precisely this type of event that can make teens feel attracted to cigarettes. The marketing campaigns aim at this target audience.”

Another analysis showed high levels of air contamination in discotheques in six cities, Alanoca confirmed. He also objected to the fact that club owners do not enforce the rules mandating smoke-free public places, especially those where young people are present.

The other aspect of the law being violated is the prohibition on selling cigarettes at locations near colleges and universities.

The Anti-tobacco Law of 2005 ratified the WHO FCTC and created the Inter-institutional Commission on Tobacco Control and Prevention.

Smoke-free spaces not being respected

Willy Alanoca went to a restaurant and sat down in an area marked “for non-smokers”. However, two smokers were sitting nearby smoking. Alanoca complained but the owner sided with the smokers.

Alanoca explained there are no smoke-free public areas in Bolivia. He insisted there should not be smoking and no-smoking areas (next to each other) because “the smoke doesn’t know how to read but, rather, goes where the wind takes it.”

Martín Maturano, the Vice-Minister of Health Promotion noted that other rules also fall short. “It’s forbidden to sell singles or partial packs, but this practice continues.” As well, kiosks on the street feature tobacco ads even though this is forbidden.

World No Tobacco Day in Gabon: focusing on policy

28 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor


Photo and report credit: Thanguy NZUE OBAME, Service du Travail de la Lolo Bouenguidi a Koulamoutou and Mouvement Populaire Pour la Santé au Gabon (MPS-GABON)

World No Tobacco Day in Gabon focused on a number of high level meetings held with key authorities including the President of the National Assembly and the Minister Delegate to Health. Held from 28-30 May, the meetings were a chance to discuss government policy making in relation to tobacco control.

On 30 May, a press luncheon hosted by NGOs and WHO was held to brief the media on Article 13 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its implementation in Gabon.

Finally on May 31, 2013, events culminated with an address by Mr Nzue Obame, the Resident Representative WHO and Ministry of Health. This was followed by the establishment of tobacco focal points and a briefing room of the dangers of tobacco in the building housing the school health services.

Gabon pic


USA World No Tobacco Day: Is this the world that tobacco ads hope to build?

28 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor



This is the question asked in a short video produced by ASH USA to mark World No Tobacco Day.

View the video by clicking here.

USA pic

The Philippines: Tobacco ‘crime scenes’ pop up in the metro on World No Tobacco Day

28 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

Photos and report credit: Nichola Liboro, HealthJustice

On World No Tobacco Day in the Philippines capital Manila, commuters were stunned to find grisly crime scenes in various locations in the metro. The cause of death: tobacco.

Philippines pic 1








The tobacco ‘crime scenes’ are actually art installations vividly illustrating what tobacco companies don’t want people to see: smoking kills. The installations are part of a campaign called Cause of Death: Tobacco, spearheaded by HealthJustice Philippines in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), and the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP), among others.

“When you promote smoking, you promote death, it’s as simple as that,” said Irene Reyes, Managing Director at HealthJustice. “Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) activities deceive and hide the truth from the public, making it seem as if smoking is glamorous and cool when the truth is that it kills one out of every 2 smokers. A comprehensive ban on TAPS will help in reducing deaths that would be caused by smoking.”

“Tobacco really is the world’s biggest serial killer. For this simple reason alone it needs no further promotion,” said Diana Trivino, Project Manager at HealthJustice. “Tobacco is a major cause of the world’s top killer diseases including stroke, lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases. It is responsible for almost 1 in 10 adult deaths worldwide. It is irresponsible to continue to allow promotion of tobacco products.”

Philippines pic 2







Philippines pic 3

Congo World No Tobacco Day: Denouncing the influence of the tobacco industry on government policy

27 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

Photo and report credit: Célestin ZOUMA, Coordonateur du Réseau des ONG Congolaises de lutte antitabac ROCAT


The tobacco control group ROCAT in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Population and WHO Country celebrated World No Tobacco Day 2013 with a series of events including a press Conference by the Minister of Health briefing, outreach campaigns, and TV and radio
coverage, which took place from 30 to 31 May 2013A Brazzaville.

In a series of media interviews, the coordinator of ROCAT Celestin Zouma denounced the influence of the tobacco industry on government policy in health, and called for strict enforcement.

Outreach activities included public awareness campaigns of the dangers of smoking in public and private places, schools and police stations and police stations in the capital city.

Congo pic 1

Congo pic 2

congo pic 3

World No Tobacco Day Poland: fighting breaches of TAPS bans

27 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

Photo and report credit: Dr Łukasz Balwicki, Polish Society for Health Programs

A seminar entitled “Protecting children from tobacco industry’s marketing” took place at the Ministry of Health in Warsaw, Poland, on May 29, 2013. The objective of the seminar was to integrate efforts for effective enforcement of ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

The seminar was a joint initiative of the World Health Organization Country Office in Poland, Ministry of Health and Smoke Free Poland Partnership, which provided an opportunity to establish a discussion of the current state of law enforcement and protecting children against Big Tobacco marketing manipulations.

The meeting was accompanied by a photographic exhibition featuring examples of tobacco industry violation and circumvention of TAPS bans at sport events and other cultural, educational, social and political activities.

An example of a poster prepared for the exhibition:


Jamaica World No Tobacco Day

27 Jun, 13 | by Marita Hefler, News Editor

Photo and report credit: K. Morrish Cooke, Heart Foundation of Jamaica/Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control


A rainy start to the day did not dampen spirits or activities planned for WNTD in Jamaica.

There were two main activities. One was an outside broadcast addressing tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS). Representatives from the National Council on Drug Abuse, the Jamaica Cancer Society, the Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control, the Heart Foundation of Jamaica and the Ministry of Health participated. There was also a National Forum on TAPS entitled Stop Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship: Save our Youth. Stakeholders including the Ministry of Health participated, along with two students who were part of a panel discussion on the topic.

Jamaica pic 1Jamaica pic 2

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