Worldwide there are over 1.3 billion people who use tobacco, the majority of whom live in resource-constrained countries. Each year, tobacco claims the lives of more than 8 million people, including 1.2 million lives lost from exposure to secondhand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken to reverse this global epidemic, tobacco will kill as many as one billion people this century, putting it among the greatest sources of preventable death and disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought the dangers of tobacco further to the fore, leading millions of people worldwide to want to quit. To mark World No Tobacco Day on May 31, 2021, Vital Strategies launched campaigns in eight countries to bolster the World Health Organization’s commitment to encourage quitting by building support for healthy policies, such as smoke-free environments.
Since 2008, Vital Strategies has worked with 41 countries to deliver more than 375 evidence-based, media campaigns and build local capacity to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco. Our World No Tobacco Day campaigns support policies to discourage and reduce smoking and reach millions around the world.
Tobacco Enforcement and Reporting Movement (TERM) Website Launched
To further our vision of a world without tobacco advertising, Vital Strategies launched a website for the Tobacco Enforcement and Reporting Movement (TERM), which offers monthly reports on tobacco marketing activities in India—providing concrete evidence of tobacco marketing and gaps in efforts to restrict it. For example, from March 16 to April 15 alone, 890 examples of tobacco marketing were noted.
Currently operating in India, TERM will soon include reports from Indonesia, where a recent survey uncovered the severity of the issue with 95% of respondents aged 13-15 reporting that they had seen a tobacco ad online between February and April 2021. TERM will look to expand to other countries with high burdens of tobacco use to strengthen advertising bans nationally and serve as a model for other locations. TERM was launched as a Facebook campaign in India in 2019 to provide an online platform where people could actively report tobacco marketing they come across; to date, it has more than 89,000 followers.
Our Team and Partners Were Recognized for Their Commitment to Tobacco Control
Each year for World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes individuals and organizations for their accomplishments in tobacco control. This year, two members of the Vital Strategies team received awards: Vice President of the Health, Family, Labour and Social Affairs Commission of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly and Istanbul-based partner, Tuba Durgut, and Her Royal Highness, Princess Dina Mired, Hashemite King of Jordan, Vital Strategies’ Special Envoy for Noncommunicable Diseases. Seven of our partners were also recognized.
STOP Called Out Big Tobacco’s Efforts to Undermine Cessation
For World No Tobacco Day, STOP, a global tobacco industry watchdog in which Vital Strategies is a partner, posted a blog to their website detailing the industry’s efforts to derail tobacco control measures and encouraging people to alert STOP to interference in their country.
2021 Global World No Tobacco Day Campaigns
India Highlighted the Health Benefits of Quitting and Pushed for Stronger Tobacco Control
In India, Vital Strategies collaborated with WHO India to launch the campaign “When You Quit” on national radio stations and on digital television platforms in 17 different languages.
Bandung, Indonesia Strengthened Smoke-Free Laws
On World No Tobacco Day, Mayor H. Oded Muhammad Danial of Bandung, Indonesia unveiled a new smoke-free law to the public that prohibits smoking in seven types of public spaces—a tremendous outcome of the city’s participation in the Partnership for Healthy Cities global network supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with WHO and Vital Strategies. The unveiling ceremony took place at the city center and featured speeches from the mayor and head of the department of health, along with performances from musical guest stars, to celebrate the achievement and increase public knowledge of the law.
The Philippines Ran to Quit
In the Philippines, Vital Strategies and the Department of Health joined forces to launch a virtual Smoke-Free Challenge. Participants competed in virtual distance-based activities, which included running, walking and swimming. The challenge promoted healthy activities and encouraged people who use tobacco to “commit to quit”—the theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day—and supported the implementation of local smoke-free policies.
China Promoted Smoke-Free Policies
In China, Vital Strategies recognized World No Tobacco Day by promoting smoke-free policies nationally and locally. Two of Vital’s public service announcements, “Cigarettes are Eating Your Baby Alive” and “Smoke-Free Family,” reached more than 1 million people through an online event organized by the National Health Commission. In Yunnan, Vital worked with the Health Education Center and Health Education Association to provide posters on the importance of smoke-free policies for 200,000 bulletin boards across the province. Qinhuangdao, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Beijing, Changchun and Xi’an also launched social and mass media campaigns and smoke-free runs to increase public support for smoke-free policies.
Ukraine Warned About Tobacco Use and Risks From COVID-19
In Ukraine, Vital Strategies worked with the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health and the NGO Life Advocacy Center to launch a new media campaign on tobacco use and COVID-19. “A Doctor’s Warning” featured a testimonial from a prominent doctor on how smoking increases risks from COVID-19 and on the harms of e-cigarettes. To support people in quitting, the campaign offers WHO cessation resources through a QR code.
Vietnam and Bangladesh Urged People to Quit Smoking to Protect Others From Secondhand Smoke
In Vietnam, Vital Strategies worked alongside partners at the Vietnam Women’s Union and the Vietnam Tobacco Control Fund to launch a new campaign in time for World No Tobacco Day. “Quit Smoking to Protect Your Loved Ones,” shares the powerful story of Mrs. Le Thi Tinh, who bravely recounts to audiences how she developed lung cancer after regular exposure to secondhand smoke in her home. The campaign is running on national television channels and on the Smoke-Free Vietnam Facebook page through June. More than 1,900 people tuned into the Facebook Live campaign launch event, which featured an appearance from Miss Universe Vietnam 2017.
In Bangladesh, Vital Strategies supported the government to air the public service announcement, “Smoke-Free Homes” for six weeks on the state-owned television channel, Bangladesh Television. The messaging focused on the importance of quitting smoking to protect loved ones from secondhand smoke. The campaign was supplemented by posts to Facebook page, Stop Tobacco Bangladesh.
Brazil Focused on Putting an End to ENDS
In Brazil, Vital Strategies, ACT, the Brazilian Medical Association and Cancer Foundation, launched a social media campaign focused on the importance of the ban on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in Brazil and pushing back against industry efforts to overturn it. The public shared campaign materials and tagged the regulatory agency, ANVISA, to voice their support for the ban.
Press Statements and Further Reading
For more information about Vital Strategies’ work in tobacco control, please visit: https://www.vitalstrategies.org/programs/tobacco-control
Follow us on Twitter: @VitalStrat
About Vital Strategies’ work in
Vital Strategies works in more than 40 countries to support the adoption of proven policies to reduce tobacco use. Our global team of experts use policy, advocacy and strategic communication to help governments adopt lifesaving, public health “best buys” like comprehensive smoke-free laws and high tobacco taxes.
Our evidence-based public education campaigns have been seen by more than 2 billion people around the world. We partnered with the American Cancer Society to produce The Tobacco Atlas, (sixth ed.) the most comprehensive report on the evolving global tobacco epidemic, and support production of WHO’s MPOWER reports.
Vital Strategies is a main partner in the $1 billion Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use and a partner in the global tobacco industry watchdog, Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP).