Harnessing youth power in making Myanmar tobacco-free
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Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Sustainable Financing, Thailand
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A648
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Tobacco consumption in Myanmar is high, with an alarming 44% of adult men and 8% of women smoking. Smokeless tobacco use among both men and women in Myanmar is also the highest among ASEAN countries. Despite the adoption of The Control of Smoking and Consumption of Tobacco Product Law in May 2006 which bans tobacco advertising and sponsorship, compliance is still low. This presentation will highlight the activities of a youth network, 'Mnet' in working towards a tobacco free generation in Myanmar.

Intervention or response:
Myanmar's University of Public Health, in collaboration with Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, established a youth network called MNet in 2016. Initially, the network consists of students from medical universities, public health and community health faculties with the aim to expand to other youths from all over Myanmar. This youth network aims to monitor and expose tobacco industry violations of the law, advocate strong enforcement mechanisms and promote the youth's voice for a tobacco free generation.

Results and lessons learnt:
MNET found the tobacco industry, particularly international companies, were found to circumvent the national tobacco control law, especially the ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Violations, such as promotion girls, were more prevalent in the urban areas especially in the capital city, Yangon. Mnet was able to draw youth form various parts to monitor the evidence and pass them on to policy makers for enforcement action. Since there are many youths over a wide area, they can devise mechanisms of monitoring and conduct effective advocacy for efficient enforcement.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Tobacco companies contravene the law by taking advantage of a developing country with limited resources in enforcement. Civil society, especially the youth, when organized into a network can play a crucial role in exposing the industry and assisting the government towards achieving a smoke-free society.

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