Four cities working to reduce tobacco use or promotion through the Partnership for Healthy Cities marked World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) last week with major public events. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Bengaluru, India; Bandung, Indonesia; and Shenzhen, China took advantage of the annual World Health Organization (WHO) awareness day to launch Partnership-supported activities and boost public support. (Pictured above: A Bandung participant touts this year’s heart-health theme.)
Throughout Rio de Janeiro, a new anti-smoking poster and PSA campaign appeared in the city’s public transportation system, and on Copacabana Beach, a giant blue balloon stated, “Smoking Indoors Is Not Cool”—a play on words that also means “Smoking Indoors Is Not Legal.” Volunteers in purple t-shirts chatted with passersby and handed out brochures about the launch of a new enforcement drive.
The drive will involve costly fines for violations of both point-of-sale advertising regulations—recently tightened through the city’s Partnership initiative—and smoke-free zones in and around restaurants and bars.
In Bengaluru, India, hundreds of doctors and other medical professionals took to the streets to warn residents about the dangers of secondhand smoke. Their message was amplified on the radio with a four-day ad campaign and a series of interviews with the city’s Partnership for Healthy Cities technical team about the effects of tobacco on heart disease and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
Bengaluru’s Partnership initiative targets enforcement of an existing smoke-free law, backed up by extensive billboard and mass media campaigns emphasizing the effects of secondhand smoke on coworkers and smokers’ families.
In Bandung, citizens were invited to create murals and post heart-shaped messages about “smoking myths” at an art fair in a city park. Bandung’s acting mayor, Muhammad Solihin, also took part in the city’s WNTD activities. “Tobacco breaks hearts” was the official WNTD tagline this year, and the hearts were a reference to tobacco’s devastating effects on cardiovascular health.
Through the Partnership, Bandung is working to build support for a 100% smoke-free bill to be proposed to the local legislature. In the meantime, the city is strongly enforcing a smoking ban in government buildings, hotels, restaurants and schools, with new signage posted and inspections conducted earlier this year throughout the city.
And finally, Shenzhen marked WNTD with PSAs on giant outdoor LED screens in six districts of the city. City, national and WHO officials joined Vital Strategies at a high-profile press conference, where details of Shenzhen’s Partnership initiative were announced for the first time.
The city is working with the Partnership to draft a ban on indoor smoking of e-cigarettes, a provision not included in the city’s four-year-old smoke-free law. Vital Strategies and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease are also helping the city strengthen enforcement through trainings and a communication campaign.
The Partnership for Healthy Cities is led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his role as World Health Organization Ambassador for NCDs. The Partnership was borne out of the conviction that cities are the engines of change: Cities are uniquely positioned to transform the fight against injuries and NCDs by implementing proven policies that significantly reduce exposure to risk factors.
The Partnership is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies.