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Poland Ministry of Health Launches Mass Media Campaign to Warn of the Harms of Smoking

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

(New York, NY and Warsaw, Poland) – Poland's Ministry of Health launched a new mass media campaign to inform millions of Polish smokers about the serious effects tobacco has on their health and the health of their children. The nationwide campaign, called “Cigarettes are Eating You Alive,” visually depicts how smoking damages vital organs of the body and can cause serious health problems, even death, in children who are exposed to cigarette smoke. The Campaign is being supported by World Lung Foundation, which provided technical and financial assistance.

“Cigarettes are Eating You Alive” was originally created in New York City, but was rigorously tested in focus groups across the world and was found to motivate smokers to try to quit. The campaign includes two television ads that will air for four weeks across Poland on both national TV and regional cable. The first ad shows in graphic detail how cigarettes damage the lungs, the heart and the brain by causing stroke. A second ad shows that children exposed to cigarette smoke suffer more respiratory infection, ear infections, asthma – even more sudden infant death.

Sandra Mullin, Senior VP Communications, World Lung Foundation said, “Hard hitting, highly visual messages can motivate people to stop smoking. This campaign uses a graphic approach to communicate that smoking kills and secondhand smoke is also deadly, especially to children. We congratulate the Ministry of Health and the Polish government for running this campaign, and look forward to future efforts to reduce the tobacco epidemic in Poland.”

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.