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Petition Launched for Strong National Tobacco Law

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

(May 15, 2013, New York and Dakar, Senegal) – Today Ligue Sénégalaise contre le Tabac (LISTAB) and World Lung Foundation (WLF) launched a new website and online petition,, to enable Senegalese citizens to show their support for a strong tobacco control law expected later this year. Visitors to the website can learn more about the harms of tobacco and secondhand smoke on both adults and children. launches during the first-ever national mass media campaign, called ‘Sponge,’ to warn Senegalese people about the harms of tobacco. The campaign, initiated by the Ministry of Health and Social Action, uses graphic imagery to show how much tar collects in a smoker’s lungs. People often report awareness of the harms of tobacco but they don’t internalize just how poisonous tobacco is until they see vivid imagery of ingredients such as tar. Substantial evidence from message testing in Senegal and from research in other countries demonstrates that graphic campaigns such as “Sponge,” can shift people from awareness to action.

In this case, the campaign aims to motivate smokers to quit, and to mobilize support for a national tobacco control law. Such a law would include:

  • Increasing the price of tobacco through taxation• Establishing 100% smoke-free public places
  • Enforcing total bans on tobacco advertising and sponsorship
  • Running sustained graphic mass media campaigns such as “Sponge”
  • Regular monitoring of trends in tobacco use

New Survey Shows Majority of Senegalese Don’t Smoke
According to new survey results, 88 percent of Senegalese are non-smokers, which represents a potentially large pool of support for tobacco control laws. The survey also shows 82 percent of Senegalese citizens are aware that smoking causes serious diseases. 88 percent said they know smokers should not expose others to cigarette smoke and 74 percent know tobacco smoke harms children who breathe it.

“The good news is that people in Senegal have a basic awareness of the harms of tobacco,” said Dr. Abdoul Aziz Kasse, President, Ligue Sénégalaise contre le Tabac. He added, “Awareness, however, is not enough when an aggressive industry is targeting our families and children for addiction to deadly products. We need action. And we need to create a strong tobacco control law. This petition and the enthusiasm already shown to sign it, should help us make that case to government.”

“The vast majority of Senegalese do not smoke, which means there is a rare opportunity to halt the tobacco epidemic before it really takes hold,” said Peter Baldini, Chief Executive Officer, World Lung Foundation. “If we can activate that majority through strong campaigns and this petition, we can promote policies that will save millions of lives.”

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.

About the survey
1,100 Senegalese adults aged 18-55 were sampled and interviewed, with respondents across all socioeconomic classes across 15 regions of Senegal. 43 percent of those surveyed lived in urban areas and 57 percent in rural areas. Door-to-door interviews were conducted between March 23 and March 30, 2013. The research was commissioned by World Lung Foundation on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Social Action and was executed by TNS.