Islamabad - Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination in collaboration with the industry will run anti-tobacco messages on cinema screens to further boost the tobacco-control communication programme, an official said on Saturday.

A statement issued by the ministry said that steady progress had been made towards establishment of population-level tobacco control communication programmes to combat tobacco use.

In this context, the Tobacco Control Cell (TCC) of the ministry, with the support of the Federal Film Censor Board, has launched a pilot advocacy campaign in cinema theatres across Pakistan, the statement said.

In this campaign, two tobacco-control messages have been disseminated to all cinemas through the Censor Board to be broadcast during shows regularly. A 30-second advertisement graphically depicts that how cigarettes’ smoke caused preventable diseases and premature death. The ad compares a smoker’s lungs with a sponge.

It graphically shows that how a smoker’s lungs soak up the poisons found in tobacco smoke, which resided in the lungs as cancer-causing tar. The amount of tar generated by a pack a day, every year, is enough to fill a beaker. The ad lists the diseases associated with tobacco use and urges smokers to ‘Quit Today’. It is expected that approximately 3,000 people would watch these anti-tobacco messages daily.

It may be recalled that the Tobacco Control Cell and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority had already been working to institutionalise mass media campaigns through their regulatory system.

Over the past 12 months, the TCC in coordination with PEMRA distributed two tobacco-control mass-media campaigns comprising public-service messages to the media networks. An independent media monitoring agency found that the above-mentioned 30-second ad was aired over 1,100 times on TV channels in Pakistan.

Parallel to this, coverage of tobacco-control messages was expanded to community-based channels including installation of billboards and posters featuring messages. These were displayed in hospitals and health centres in Rawalpindi and all provincial capitals across the country, the statement added.

The TCC also recently notified new pictorial health warning spreading on 50 per cent of the front and back of all cigarettes packs with a move to enhance and change the warnings to 60 per cent by June, 2019, the statement said.

Tobacco use is single largest preventable cause of death in the world. In Pakistan, tobacco is a cause of death of around 108,800 persons every year. This is 298 deaths per day. Population-level tobacco control communication programmes are helpful in curbing the epidemic and saving lives of people of the country, the statement concluded.



our staff reporter