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Press Room

India Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Laucnhes New Tobacco Control Campaign

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York and Delhi, India) – World Lung Foundation (WLF) is supporting India's Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, to launch a new mass media campaign that visually depicts the amount of tar that collects inside an average smoker's lungs. The nationwide campaign, called ‘Sponge,' is being aired across 40 TV and 28 radio channels until July 2009 in five languages – English, Hindi, Tamil, Gujarti and Bengali.

‘Sponge,' which was tested rigorously among focus groups in India, has already been utilized in tobacco control campaigns in number of regions of the world, with measurable impact. The ad has now been adapted for India's diverse audience. The campaign aims to inform millions of Indian smokers about the serious impact tobacco has on their health and to motivate them to quit before they become sick.

This campaign is one in a series of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is planning to warn against the dangers of tobacco use.  BK Prasad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, said: “Our government is committed to reducing the toll tobacco and creating awareness about the hazards of tobacco usage among smokers as well as non-smokers.  This campaign uses a scientific approach to developing and delivering a clear message about the personal dangers of smoking and builds on an earlier campaign that warned Indians about the harm passive smoking does to others.  We look forward to our continued collaboration with WLF on this and other effective media campaigns.”

 “Millions are misinformed about the health impact of tobacco use in India and ‘Sponge' will help us correct this problem,” Jagdish Kaur, Chief Medical Officer, National Tobacco Control Program said. “The campaign clearly depicts the poison in tobacco and what it physically does to human lungs.”

Sandra Mullin, Senior VP Communications, World Lung Foundation said, “People who smoke may know it is bad for their health but they often don't know how bad. Blunt, graphic warnings explain the serious sickness tobacco causes much more vividly. We are honored to be in partnership with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare as we send this message across India”.

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.

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 adults worldwide. In India, it kills almost one million people each year.