The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2016 (WNTD) was ‘Get Ready for Plain Packaging’. The Union joined international calls for countries to introduce plain tobacco packaging to encourage users to quit and discourage non-users from trying addictive nicotine products. Further, The Union called for a ‘plain packaging’ approach to e-cigarettes – this burgeoning industry is increasingly owned by tobacco companies renowned for targeting children with powerful marketing campaigns.
The Department of Tobacco Control released a statement to international partners and press.
Union grantees under the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use also marked WNTD with events and policy announcements across the globe.
The Ministry of Health committed to enlarging graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging to cover 75 percent of the surface area, with a view to moving towards plain packaging. Health Minister, Professor Nila Moeloek, also announced plans to combat the tobacco epidemic in Indonesia by improving tobacco control laws and regulation. Indonesia is one of the few countries yet to ratify the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The Union provides technical support to Indonesia’s Directorate of Non-communicable Diseases within the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (MoH) gave an update on tobacco control progress: court proceedings are still delaying the proposed 85 percent graphic health warnings, but are being defended by the MoH. The Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar said a priority would also be on tax increases for tobacco products as recommended by The Union / Bloomberg Initiative report of 2014.
The chief commissioner of Islamabad, Zulfiqar Haider awarded shields for significant contributions and commitment to tobacco control – Dr Fouad Aslam, The Union’s focal point in Pakistan received this recognition. Head of Smokefree Islamabad, Dr Minhaj, also addressed the event’s attendees, who included media and local stakeholders.
The Union supports Pakistan’s MoH and Smokefree Islamabad with technical expertise and capacity building.
Union grantees, Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB Trust) received an award from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for contributions to tobacco control. Executive Director of the WBB Trust, Saifuddin Ahmed, received the award from the Health Minister, Mohammed Nasim at a ceremony in Dhaka.
Brazil's Chamber of Deputies held a special session convened by Alessandro Molon -- author of the plain packaging bill currently before Congress. The Union supports this policy initiative through a Bloomberg Initiative (BI) grant with Brazil's National Cancer Institute. The purpose of the event was to rally tobacco control forces and step up pressure for approval of the bill. Cristiane Vianna, The Union's representative in Brazil, spoke at the event, on behalf of Mirta Molinari, regional coordinator for tobacco control in Latin America.
CNN ran extensive World No Tobacco Day coverage, featuring an interview with Health Minister Carmen Castillo who spoke about plain tobacco packaging. It also featured the Ministry of Health video advertising its peer-to-peer smoking prevention campaign, ‘Drop it Now!’ – a competition for 10 to 12-year-olds to create videos, comics, songs or posters encouraging their friends not to start smoking.
There is a plain packaging bill currently before the Chilean Congress that is supported by The Union through a BI grant.
The Senate's Health Committee held its final discussion on the regulation of e-cigarettes before submitting the matter to the Senate. Gustavo Sóñora, The Union's legal advisor for tobacco control in Latin America, made a presentation on comparative regulatory models, which was attended by the Health Minister.
Gustavo Sóñora also presented before Colombia's Chamber of Representatives, supporting a proposed increase in the size of graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging from 30 percent to 80 percent.
A coalition of government, civil society organisations, and international health agencies met in Lima to support the full tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship ban (TAPS) proposal currently before Congress. The Union's Peru office is offering technical support for expansion of the TAPS ban, to include newspapers, magazines, and online communications. It was scheduled to be discussed by Congress on 26 May, but it was dropped at the last minute. The coalition is stepping up pressure to have it reviewed at the next congressional session.
Uruguay's Ministry of Health launched a video campaign on social media to reach female teenage smokers. The audience is led to believe they are watching a teenage girl ditching a boyfriend after many failed attempts to put an end to "a toxic relationship". The protagonist declares herself ‘an ex’: making a last-minute revelation that she has been talking about quitting tobacco. The video went viral and to date has had around 770,000 viewings and 10,000 shares on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/MeDeclaroEx/videos/1106257436103587/
The Union supports the Ministry of Health’s tobacco control unit with technical assistance.
The Ministry of Health signed an agreement with the Casa Rosada, the seat of the executive branch of the Argentine government, to make the presidential palace 100 percent smokefree, to promote healthy eating, and physical activity. The agreement includes smoking cessation services.
Photo: Fernando de Andréis, Argentina’s secretary general, signing the agreement.
Tobacco control officials from 19 jurisdictions met to discuss how to progress towards ratification of the WHO FCTC. Argentina is one of just a handful of countries that have not yet done this.
The Union supports the Buenos Aires’ Ministry of Health with technical assistance and capacity building.
Mirta Molinari, Director of The Union’s Latin America office attended the official release of Mexico’s new Global Adult Tobacco Survey data. The event was led by the Minister of Health, Dr Narro Robles and was attended by representatives from the National Commission Against Addictions and the Pan American Health Organisation.
In Nuevo Leon, Mexico, the state government launched a communications campaign in support of the state's 100 percent smokefree law. This law is currently threatened by a legislative initiative to reinstate designated smoking areas in public venues. The campaign is a collaborative effort between the Nuevo Leon government, The Union, and Vital Strategies. It includes coverage on television and radio, subway posters, and social media.
The Union supports Mexico’s Ministry of Health with technical assistance and capacity building for tobacco control.
The Metro Manila Development Authority (Union grantees) deployed environmental enforcers and street sweepers dressed as zombies near selected metro railway stations to inform the public of the disease and premature death caused by tobacco use. Dubbed ‘The Smoking Dead’, the zombies handed out flyers on the graphic health warning law for tobacco packaging.
The Sweet Smokefree Home Movement was launched in Hanoi, Vietnam to highlight the health impacts of exposure to second-hand smoke in the home. This event was organised by Vietnam’s Women’s Union. Participants included representatives from the Ministry of Health plus thousands of women and students who voiced their support for the movement.
The Union supports Vietnam’s National Tobacco Control Fund within the Ministry of Health and the Vietnam Public Health Association.
The Union’s China team organised a high-level seminar on combating tobacco industry interference. Attendees included representatives from the World Health Organization, Deputy Director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) and Mr. Wang Longde -- former vice minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC). Calls for a comprehensive smokefree law in China were also voiced during the seminar.
Substantial media coverage to build support for the national smokefree law was also generated by the China office – more than 31 million people were estimated to have been reached by television coverage on China’s draft national tobacco control law around WNTD.
The Union supports China CDC and the NHFPC with technical assistance and capacity building.
The Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Shri J P Nadda, was officially recognised by civil society organisations as playing a key role in recent tobacco control efforts at a World No Tobacco Day event held in New Delhi. Over the past two years the Ministry of Health has led the battle to implement graphic health warnings covering 85 percent of the surface area of tobacco packs. Challenges were legal, political, administrative and socio-economic.
During this event the Health Minister launched a new national quitline.
Several states marked WNTD with events and sub-national policy announcements:
Significant contributions to the progress of tobacco control by law enforcement agents, media experts and civil society organisations were recognised with awards.
Point-of-sale tobacco advertising was banned, and a special committee was formed to combat tobacco industry interference through implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC.
Five districts were confirmed as being 100 percent compliant with the national tobacco control law. The state health minister declared a zero tolerance approach to non-compliance with the new graphic health warnings for tobacco packaging.
A new app to monitor compliance with tobacco control law was launched by the state tobacco control cell and Union grantees SRKPS.
A mass media event attended by 2,000 people was organised by Union grantees, MANT. Celebrities starring at the event included a famous singer, footballer and poet. The goal was to raise awareness about the health harms of tobacco use and the positive impact of plain packaging on public health.