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January 14, 2018

Cinemas to join anti-tobacco campaign


January 14, 2018

Islamabad : The Tobacco Control Cell (TCC), with the support of the Federal Film Censor Board, has launched a pilot advocacy campaign in cinema theatres across Pakistan as part of its effort for establishment of population-level tobacco control communication programmes to combat tobacco use.

Two tobacco control messages ‘Alive’ and ‘Sponge’ will regularly be disseminated during film screening. The 30-second ‘Sponge’ ad graphically depicts how cigarettes smoke causes preventable disease and premature death. The ad compares a smoker’s lungs with a sponge. It graphically shows how a smoker’s lungs soak up the poisons found in tobacco smoke, which collect in the lungs as cancer-causing tar. The amount of tar generated by a pack a day smoker, every year, is enough to fill a beaker. The ad lists the diseases associated with tobacco use and urges smokers to ‘Quit Today!’ It is expected that approximately 3,000 people may watch these anti-tobacco messages daily.

The TCC and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority has already been working to institutionalize mass media campaigns through their regulatory system. Over the past 12 months, Tobacco Control Cell, in coordination with the PEMRA, has distributed two tobacco control mass media campaigns of public service messages to media networks. An independent media monitoring agency supported by Vital Strategies found that ‘Sponge’ was aired over 1,100 times on TV channels in Pakistan. Parallel to this, coverage of tobacco control messages has been expanded through community-based channels including installation of billboards and posters featuring messages in hospital and health centres in Rawalpindi and all provincial capitals across the country.

TCC has recently notified new pictorial health warning, 50% of the front and back of all cigarettes packs and outers with a move to enhance and change the warnings to 60% by June 2019.

Tobacco use is single largest preventable cause of death in the world. In Pakistan, tobacco causes 108,800 deaths every year. Population-level tobacco control communication programmes are helpful in curbing tobacco epidemic and saving lives of people.

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