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Two-thirds of Countries Haven’t Aired an Anti-Tobacco Campaign To Increase Awareness on Dangers of Tobacco Use

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

(New York, USA) – World Lung Foundation today welcomed the publication of the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Control Epidemic, 2013, which highlights the importance of complete bans on Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship. The report is the 4th comprehensive review of tobacco polices around the globe, providing a scorecard of countries’ efforts in a number of tobacco control policies.

The report also reveals the vital role played by hard-hitting anti-tobacco mass media campaigns in increasing awareness of the real harms of tobacco use, reducing tobacco use, increasing quit attempts, and reducing exposure to second hand smoke.

The report notes that:

• Nearly 3.8 billion people (54% of the world’s population) live in a country that has aired at least one national anti-tobacco mass media campaign on TV and/or radio for a duration of at least three weeks in the past two years
• However, around two-thirds of countries – including nearly 75 per cent of low-income countries – have yet to implement any national mass media campaigns to inform people about the harms of tobacco use or encourage them to quit
• Middle income countries are the most likely to have implemented campaigns that match the highest level of best practice, including airing on TV and/or radio
- 22 middle income countries have implemented such campaigns compared with 11 high income countries and 4 low income countries
• Middle income countries also are the most likely to have implemented campaigns at the next best level of practice
- 8 middle income countries have implemented such campaigns compared with 4 high income countries and 4 low income countries
• In Bangladesh, one campaign achieved more than 70 percent recall among smokers, 40 percent of whom made a quit attempt
• In Norway, 68 per cent of the population recalled a campaign and nearly 60 per cent of smokers who saw the campaign said it motivated them to make a quit attempt.

Peter Baldini, Chief Executive, World Lung Foundation (WLF), commented: “We congratulate WHO on the publication of this report. It clearly demonstrates both the need to stop Big Tobacco from marketing to consumers and the obligation we have to warn people about the harms of tobacco use. We urge governments to legislate more forcefully to ban tobacco marketing in all its forms and to implement best practice national mass media campaigns to combat decades of misinformation from the tobacco industry.

“We can point to an ever-increasing body of evidence that graphic national anti-tobacco mass media campaigns alert people to the dangers of smoking and can lead to behavior change at a population level. Graphic TV ads that demonstrate the health harms of tobacco use are easily understood and consistently effective in all countries, irrespective of income level. Last week, Cameroon became the latest country to implement its first national mass media campaign. A recent campaign in Senegal resulted in a near 600 per cent increase in calls to the national tobacco quitline. The campaign implemented in Senegal – called “Sponge” – is the same campaign that was used to such great effect in Norway and Bangladesh.

“Such success shows other countries that mass media can be highly effective and cost efficient. There is no need to spend heavily on new advertisements when governments can simply adapt existing, proven campaigns. We will continue to work with governments around the world to help them understand how mass media can be used to improve public health and implement impactful campaigns. There is an urgent need for action, particularly in the low and middle income countries now being targeted aggressively by the tobacco industry.”

WLF supported WHO in its research on national mass media campaigns for the Report on the Global Tobacco Control Epidemic, 2013. It has supported more than 100 anti-tobacco mass media campaigns in 22 countries since 2006. It also created an online resource for governments and civil society to access best-practice campaign materials and tools. Campaign planners can browse materials according to topic area and ease of adaptation.

The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Control Epidemic, 2013 is available for download here:

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

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