Driving behavioural change and building public opinion through effective partnership and sustained media advocacy for tobacco demand reduction across Delhi-NCR
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Avian Media, Advocacy, CSR and Development Communication, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A754
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Background and challenges to implementation:
As per Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), prevalence of tobacco use among people between 15 and 24 years has reduced from 18.4% in 2009-10 to 12.4% in 2017. Despite implementation of COTPA Act 2003 in India, every fifth adult uses smokeless tobacco; every 10th adult smokes tobacco. Youth and adolescents are especially vulnerable to tobacco use which causes deaths and disabilities. Quality stories covering health aspects, industry tactics and lack of enforcement around tobacco use are a challenge in Delhi-NCR.

Intervention or response:
Pro-active media advocacy with English media and vernaculars was conducted in partnership with Fortis Hospitals. Editors and correspondents were sensitized on tobacco use harms through press conferences, press releases, media interactions with oral cancer patients and exhibits of case studies. Topics on tobacco use pitched were around oral, lung cancers and diseases caused by tobacco use, busting myths around tobacco, women and children affected by tobacco use, weak law enforcement around Sec 6, new treatments to treat cancer, collaboration with traffic police to ban sale of tobacco near educational institutions.

Results and lessons learnt:
Total number of stories published in 2016-2017 were 230 including online, print and electronic media. Journalists were effectively sensitized and quality coverage appeared in The Hindu, Statesman, Tribune, Sunday Guardian, Pioneer, Asian Age, DNA, Financial Express, Health and Nutrition, Hindustan, Navbharat Times, Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala, Rashtriya Sahara and news wires such as PTI, ANI and IANS.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Effective partnerships combining communication skills, health expertise and right advocacy can lead to authentic, factual, quality media stories and buildi public opinion against tobacco use. Right messages with facts given to media can transform them into advocates for behavioral change leading to reduction in tobacco use. Quality stories can be powerful tools to build awareness and and discourage new users and youths.

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