Exposing the false statements disseminated by tobacco industry - media campaign
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Alcohol & Drug Information Centre, Media Programme, Sri Lanka
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A83
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Sri Lanka is a country which tries its best to regulate the tobacco industry in the Asian region. Major government policies have been changed based on the FCTC recommendations. With this scenario, the tobacco industry has shown its influence through media where we observed more than 100 industry favorable articles being published before and after the new tobacco control policy adjustments. The industry tried to mislead public, policy makers and other related parties. Therefore it was necessary to reveal the true facts to the country.

Intervention or response:
The media discussion was held under the support of Ministry of Mass Media and Center for Combatting Tobacco - a newly established body to monitor and report the tobacco industry efforts under the FCTC recommendation 5.3 with the presence of over 30 media stations. The facts were delivered by veterans of the field including economists, lecturers and doctors. A press release with the evidence based facts to counter the tobacco industry false statements was distributed among 100 media personnel and opinion leaders.

Results and lessons learnt:
Two TV channels, six newspapers, and two web based news streams exposed the incorrect facts of tobacco industry. The media discussion created a platform for the journalists to raise their matters regarding the existing and planned tobacco control policies. The existing structures like Ministry of Mass media was utilized well to organize such an event which saved money, time and also gained the attention of the media.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
A media discussion is a good method to expose the tobacco industry false statements and unethical media practices of the agencies to a mass audience based on evidence based, updated facts and details. The facts derived from credible sources and presented by the professionals who are actively engaged in tobacco prevention could help to build faith in people regarding the facts presented.

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