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70% of World’s Population Sees No Tobacco Counter-Advertising

Thursday, July 7, 2011

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World Lung Foundation Welcomes First-Ever Global
Assessment of Tobacco Control Mass Media

(New York, USA) - World Lung Foundation today welcomed the World Health Organization (WHO) Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2011 in Montevideo, Uruguay. This third edition of the report marks the first global research into the use of mass media as a method to warn people about the dangers of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

The report indicates that more than 70% of the world’s population saw no national tobacco counter-advertising in the last two years. In nearly 150 countries, including 110 low and middle-income countries, there is a paucity of any anti-tobacco public education using mass media. Encouragingly, of the 23 countries that have implemented at least one high-quality campaign within the last two years, 16 were low- or middle-income. This indicates mass media can be used effectively and cost-efficiently in countries where resources are scarce and the tobacco health burden is most acute.

According to WHO, of all the countries that had run an anti-tobacco mass media campaign, 61 used television advertising, 42 used radio and 42 used print media. 27 countries used the internet and 26 used social media or social networking web sites in their mass media campaigns.

A strong body of evidence suggests discrete short-burst mass media campaigns running at high levels of reach and frequency can increase knowledge about the harms of tobacco use and encourage quit attempts. Sustained use of mass media over longer periods can also contribute to population level decreases in smoking prevalence. Many studies have also documented the effectiveness of graphic materials that show physical and emotional harms tobacco use inflicts.

The Globalization of Anti-Tobacco Marketing

WLF estimates its own efforts have supported the launch of 64 anti-tobacco print and broadcast mass media campaigns in 18 countries, viewed by 643 million people. WLF’s online Mass Media Resource offers access to materials that have been evaluated and proven to work. Adapting existing materials makes campaigns much more affordable for the middle and low income countries that are increasingly being targeted by the tobacco industry. According to WHO’s data, more than twice as many middle-income countries (14) as high income countries (6) had implemented best practice campaigns.

Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy and Communications, World Lung Foundation, who will address the audience at today’s launch event in Montevideo, commented, "We are turning the tobacco industry’s own tools against it, globalizing anti-tobacco advertising in order to make it easy to spread the message: tobacco causes illness and death. Congratulations to WHO for this tremendous achievement in benchmarking a critical intervention. Many countries have only done one campaign, however, while many more have not done any. To shift behavior, counter-marketing needs to be run on a regular basis with a consistent message over the long term.”

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the world today, and is responsible for more than five million deaths each year—one in ten preventable deaths worldwide. Research has shown that mass media campaigns are one of the most effective means to encourage people to stop smoking. It is one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption. MPOWER strategies are endorsed and promoted by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, of which World Lung Foundation is a principal partner.

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About World Lung Foundation

World Lung Foundation was established in response to the global epidemic of lung disease, which kills 10 million people each year. The organization also works on maternal and infant mortality reduction initiatives. WLF improves global health by improving local health capacity, by supporting operational research, by developing public policy and by delivering public education. The organization’s areas of emphasis are tobacco control, maternal and infant mortality prevention, tuberculosis,, asthma, and child lung health. For more information, please visit

For more information, please contact Jorge Alday, World Lung Foundation, at +1.212.639.0070 or

About the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2011

The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2011 is the third in a series of periodic reports that examines the extent of the global tobacco epidemic and measures to stop it. Each report provides updates on the prevalence of smoking and analyses progress towards implementation of measures outlined in the MPOWER report as being "best" and "good buys" in tobacco control. Each measure corresponds to at least one provision of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which has been in force since 2005 and to which more than 170 countries and the European Union have already become Parties. For more information about the international release, please visit:

About Best Practice in Anti-Tobacco Mass Media Campaigns as Noted in the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2011

Characteristics of best practice mass media campaigns detailed in the WHO Report included:

- Campaigns that were national in scope.
- The campaign was part of a comprehensive government tobacco control program.
- The campaign utilized media planning strategies.
- Research was conducted to develop campaign messaging and materials.
- Campaign materials were pre-tested before use.
- The campaign was monitored during implementation to ensure that materials were used as planned.
- The campaign was evaluated to assess impact.
- Earned media was used as an adjunct to the campaign.

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