Challenging tobacco promotions in Tamil media through community responses
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Alcohol and Drug Information Center, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Publication date: 2018-10-03
Corresponding author
Abdul Cadar Abdul Raheem   

Alcohol and Drug Information Center, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 3):A85
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Introduction to challenges:
Most Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka engage with electronic media for entertainment. Five Tamil TV channels and eight Radio stations are currently functioning. These stations operate on a commercial basis. It has been shown that Tamil media outlets positively portray tobacco use compared to media outlets operating on other languages in Sri Lanka. Community responses was one strategy to address such portrayals of tobacco use in media. To address this, Media clubs were established in schools, starting from January 2017. Now there are 15 Media clubs setup in 15 schools in districts of Colombo and Nuwara Eliya.

Intervention and response:
Awareness programmes on tobacco promotions was conducted in 15 selected schools. Following these, the students volunteered themselves to the media clubs depending on their interest and capacity. Next, an orientation programme was conducted to the Media Clubs. Finally 15 students who were interested to observe media as their hobby were selected for the clubs in each school. Next, the media clubs monitored the media (both television and radio) and noted the positive portrayals of tobacco use. Every month, the club members conducted a session on how tobacco is promoted through media. More sessions were conducted for the members of the clubs with the support of media persons. Finally club members could identify the tobacco promotions via media and were motivated to work to change such portrayals. Able to achieve above changes during one year.

Results and lessons learnt:
According to the post evaluation, students have increased knowledge on tobacco promotions. They have sent individual letters to media, and organized 4 special campaigns to stop a film containing tobacco promotions which was scheduled for telecast. They were able to stop the telecast of this particular film. Also, media persons have made action to reduce tobacco promotions.

Community response can be used as powerful tool to reduce and prevent tobacco promotions.

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