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New Campaign Shows Harmful Effects of Secondhand Smoke on Children

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

(New Delhi, India) – A new tobacco control campaign was launched today in India to warn people about the deadly effects of second-hand smoke exposure on children.  The campaign, developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with technical and financial support from World Lung Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, graphically depicts that exposure to tobacco smoke can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), crippling asthma, painful ear infection, pneumonia and low birth weight among new-borns. A companion Facebook page was also launched today to create an online community for those seeking more information and support in quitting.

The nationwide campaign, called ‘Tobacco is Eating Your Baby Alive’ will begin airing in the North East region this week, and will roll-out across the rest of the country during February and March. It will air on all major TV and radio channels throughout February and March, with a complementary national outdoor campaign. The PSA, which was found to be highly effective among Indian audiences, has been adapted from the original, developed by the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. It strongly warns the public that tobacco is eating children alive and it urges tobacco users to quit their habit today.

The PSA will be released in 16 languages in a national campaign, and supplemented by a more intense burst in the North-East (NE). The campaign duration will be 45 days each in the NE and in the national schedules.

According to Shri Keshav Desiraju, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, “Millions of Indians suffer from tobacco usage. A large number of women, infants, and even unborn children suffer various health hazards due to passive smoking.”

World Lung Foundation also launched a new Facebook page today ( Visitors to the site will be able to see the campaign videos and take action. Visitors will find information on the harms of tobacco as well resources, tips and a supportive community to help quit using tobacco.

Dr. Kelly Henning, Director of International Health Programs, Bloomberg Philanthropies, says, “In India, 275 million people consume tobacco, out of which 1 million people die every year due to tobacco usage. We know that hard hitting, evidence-based mass media campaigns work to warn people about the harms of tobacco.  That is why Bloomberg Philanthropies is pleased to partner with the Government of India as it strengthens its tobacco control policies.  Through our global initiative we continue to advocate for the use of these types of campaigns along with other evidenced-based strategies such as ensuring a 100 percent smokefree work place and higher prices on all tobacco products.  Stopping this epidemic requires nothing less.”

Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy and Communications, World Lung Foundation says, “India continues to break new ground in delivering blunt warnings about the harms of tobacco.  Following previous hard hitting campaigns that showed the impact of tobacco on smokers and chewers, this campaign takes on  second-hand smoke and the danger it poses to children.  By showing specific illnesses – ear infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome – the message is clear that people who smoke around their children put them in grave danger.  We hope this sends a strong message to those who smoke: to stop exposing children to their toxins and better yet, to stop using tobacco entirely.”

Research has shown mass media campaigns are one of the most effective means to prompt 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. M-P-O-W-E-R strategies are endorsed and promoted by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, of which World Lung Foundation is a principal partner. 

The ‘Tobacco is Eating Your Baby Alive’ TV and radio public service announcements are available upon request.