Myanmar Ministries take the lead in facilitating free broadcast of national mass media campaign on the dangers of smokeless tobacco
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People’s Health Foundation, Yangon, Myanmar
Ministry of Health and Sports, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
Vital Strategies, New York, United States
Vital Strategies, Sydney, Australia
Young Guns Media, Yangon, Myanmar
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Corresponding author
Ilona Van De Braak   

People’s Health Foundation, Yangon, Myanmar
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A236
In Myanmar, 18% of women and 59% of men age 15-49 chew tobacco (betel quid). Its related death toll is higher than in other low-income countries.

In 2018, recognizing the need to address smokeless tobacco use, the Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS) supported the development and implementation of national campaigns to address this significant health burden.

Through advocacy efforts the National NGO the People’s Health Foundation (PHF), the MoHS and Ministry of Information (MoI) played a critical role in negotiating free and discounted broadcasting time for campaigns on national television and radio. In October 2018, Myanmar launched the country’s second national mass media campaign to warn people about the harms of using smokeless tobacco. The six-week campaign, featured stories of real smokeless tobacco victims in Myanmar and was developed by PHF with technical support from Vital Strategies and media agency Young Guns.

With excellent political support, the campaign launch was presided over by both Ministers. Most media outlets covered the launch and the campaign. The ministries’ direct involvement granted access to discounted and free broadcasting time, adding up to almost $100,000, matching the available media buy budget. Earned media coverage valued $34,000. Both ministries showed impressive leadership in endorsing the campaign and reiterating their commitment to follow through to contribute to public health and enforcing legislation on tobacco control, including enforcement of the 2016 law prohibiting smokeless tobacco in government offices, schools and hospitals.

Impact research shows that through MoHS requests to state media channels to provide free broadcasting time for health messages, an 89% campaign message recall among people living in urban areas was reached, and that state-owned radio and tv channels are a dominant source of information for rural Myanmar citizens. Increased leadership and support from authorities in contributing media broadcast time is critical to sustainability of these campaigns.