Health Ministry to launch ‘graphic' anti-smoking campaign

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on November 15, 2017 Published on February 15, 2012

Under its National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, in association with the World Lung Foundation (WLF), is slated to launch a mass media campaign titled ‘Tobacco is eating your baby alive' this week.

The five-week campaign will be on television backed by a budget of Rs 4.5 crore, according to the Ministry. The budget for the current financial year (2011-2012) for national mass media campaigns under NTCP is Rs 25 crore. Besides national television, a campaign focused on the North-East region is being considered.

The public service announcement has been adapted from an advertisement (ad) aired in New York. It graphically shows that children exposed to tobacco smoke suffer diseases including respiratory infections, ear infection and asthma.

Speaking to Business Line, Ms Nandita Murukutla, Director, Research and Evaluation, WLF, said, “The graphic representation has been retained to truthfully represent the harmful effects of smoking.”

WLF provided technical support to the Ministry in the development and implementation of the campaign. Ms Murukutla added that the graphic ad is in line with past campaigns in India, and did not foresee issues on its release here.

Made in NYC, tested in India

Research by the WLF, as part of a Bloomberg Initiative to fight tobacco smoke, showed that television ads made in high-income countries that graphically communicate the serious harms of tobacco use, with only minor adaptations, were likely to be effective in low- to middle-income countries.

The study between 2008 and 2010 covered 2,399 smokers aged 18-34 years in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam.

The methodology involved respondents individually rating five anti-smoking ads on a standard questionnaire, and then engaging in a group discussion on each. Three ads with graphic imagery — including the one adapted for India — were found to perform consistently highly across all countries surveyed.

Two of them showed diseased human tissue or body parts and the third used a ‘disgust provoking metaphor' to demonstrate tar accumulation in smokers' lungs.

High understanding

“This pattern of findings suggests that the use of graphic imagery in ads to communicate serious harms of smoking and provide reasons to quit may have universally high understanding and engagement,” the report said.

Ads with complex medical terms or metaphors or those that featured personal testimonials were found to elicit more variable response across markets.

It was also found that smokers who had previously tried to quit and those who were thinking of quitting were more likely to give higher ratings on the ads' ability to induce the smoker to quit. Those who rated ads higher included female smokers, those with lower education, and those from larger cities.


Published on February 15, 2012

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