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Powerful campaign urges Nuevo León citizens to obey smoke-free laws and quit smoking

(May 31, 2016, Nuevo León, Mexico and New York, USA) – On World No Tobacco Day, global public health experts Vital Strategies congratulate the government of Nuevo León, Mexico on the launch of a powerful new anti-tobacco campaign. A public service announcement (PSA) entitled “Smoke-free Nuevo León” encourages citizens to think about the harms of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS), emphasizing that comprehensive smoke-free laws are in force to protect the health of the whole population. The PSA will be broadcast on the main state TV channels and will feature on billboards in several subway stations in Monterrey, the capital city of Nuevo León, from today until July 14th. The campaign, which will also run online and on social media, is expected to reach more than 5 million people and was developed and implemented by the Ministry of Health of Nuevo León with technical and financial support from Vital Strategies and The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Mexico.

José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vital Strategies and Executive Director of The Union, said: “We recognize the government of Nuevo León for being one of only 11 Mexican states to have introduced comprehensive smoke-free laws and are delighted to have supported the administration in running this campaign. Public support and official enforcement are critical to the success of smoke-free laws – “Smoke-free Nuevo León” uses mass and social media to tell smokers the truth about smoking and exposure to SHS and to underline that people have the right and the duty to report violations of smoke-free laws. We know this proven, positive and cost-effective strategy of using mass and social media to communicate tobacco control messages will help to change opinions and effect behavior change, ultimately saving thousands of lives.”

“Smoke-free Nuevo León” graphically shows that tobacco smoke contains hundreds of toxic, poisonous substances, including arsenic and ammonia, which cause major health harms to smokers and non-smokers exposed to SHS. The PSA also reminds smokers and non-smokers that comprehensive smoke-free laws are in force in Nuevo León, banning smoking in public places. The PSA ends with a call to action, asking people to report violations of the smoke-free law by phone or email.

Dr. Manuel Enrique de la O Cavazos, Health Secretary of Nuevo León and Director of the state’s public health services said: “We believe this campaign will help us to promote awareness of the fact that smoking is banned in Nuevo León’s public places, in compliance with the state’s smoke-free law introduced in 2014. It will also increase awareness of the fact that tobacco is a major health threat, encourage smokers to quit and discourage youth from initiating smoking.  In conjunction with other tobacco control measures, this will reduce smoking prevalence and decrease the number of citizens exposed to secondhand smoke in Nuevo León, bringing health and economic benefits to our people.”

The burden of tobacco use in Nuevo León

According to Encuesta Nacional de Adicciones (ENA – The Mexican National Survey of Addictions) 2008, 26.5 percent of people in Nuevo León smoke cigarettes, including 37.7 percent of men and 15.5 percent of women. This is higher than the average smoking prevalence for the whole of Mexico. In addition, 18.7 percent of 13 to 15 year olds say they smoke cigarettes. Around 93,000 smokers in Nuevo León smoke their first cigarette of the day within half an hour of waking up – which research suggests increases the risk of lung and oral cancer.
A higher proportion of citizens in Nuevo León report being exposed to secondhand smoke (27.4 percent) than is the average across Mexico (23.3 percent) (ENA, 2008). According to The Tobacco Atlas, SHS increases the risks of contracting lung cancer by 30 percent (small cell lung cancer by 300 percent) and coronary heart disease by 25 percent. Exposure to SHS killed more than 600,000 non-smokers globally in 2010 from causes of death including ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, asthma, and lung cancers. High levels of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are reflected in the burden of premature death in Nuevo León, where seven (7) people die every day from smoking-related disease, according to analysis from Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (the National Public Health Institute). Smoking is also an economic burden to the State, with healthcare for smoking-related disease costing 324.9 million pesos.  
Research has shown that mass media campaigns are among the most effective means to encourage people to stop using tobacco. Hard-hitting campaigns and images can compel tobacco users to quit, increase knowledge of the health risks of tobacco use, and promote behavior change in both smokers and non-smokers. It is featured in 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 Vital Strategies is a principal partner.
The “Smoke-free Nuevo León” PSA and stills and the transcript from the PSA are available upon request. The social media campaign can also  be viewed at and

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies envisions a world where every person is protected by a strong public health system.  Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change.  Vital Strategies was formed when The Union North America and World Lung Foundation joined forces.  It is an affiliate of The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).

To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health expert, please contact Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies, at +44.7889.081.170 or