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Mobilizing opinion towards building a tobacco-free world for every child

Mobilizing opinion against tobacco is no mean feat. And doing it consistently for over a decade by supporting an NGO in their mission to build a tobacco-free world for every child, is certainly one most challenging.

Carmine partnered with the NGO to ideate innovatively, devise interesting platforms for communication and strategically publicize them. From child advocacy programmes like mock parliaments, cricket tournament for kids, to art academies, various methods were used. These were used as tools for impacting public opinion. A series of awareness workshops, informative meetings, research papers and programs were held with news media reporters to sensitize them to the enormity of the problem and seek their cooperation in curbing the tobacco menace.

Apart from traditional news media, a constant effort was made to involve civic authorities and make them partners in the cause. An appeal was made to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to ban direct and indirect advertising of tobacco products on BEST buses. They obliged and BMC issued a circular to more than 12 major outdoor advertising agencies directing them to ensure that no advertisements related to tobacco products are displayed on any Bus Queue Shelters and on the BEST buses. This was a significant achievement in the NGO’s endeavour of tobacco-control. To leverage on the NGO’s efforts to engage children in tobacco-control activities, Carmine conceptualized Quit Tobacco Movement. Inspired by Quit India Movement, children came forward as the new leaders of the society fighting for a tobacco-free world. The campaign included street plays, art competitions, rallies, events, and workshops conducted by children to spread the message of ‘freedom from tobacco’. The campaign was supported through a print & outdoor campaign along with editorial media support. Also, ambient media was used for cost effective visibility. Since the campaign was launched in line with ‘World No Tobacco Day’, it also garnered event based coverage. Carmine has always been proactive in ensuring optimum exposure for the NGO’s tobacco-control activities through involvement of civic authorities, tie-ups with multiple like-minded organizations, and activities planned on significant days to get maximum publicity. Also, studies conducted by experts giving statistics with regard to tobacco-caused deaths, illegal promotion of tobacco etc are publicized strategically throughout media. Over the last decade of Carmine’s alliance with the NGO we have collectively spread awareness about the implications of tobacco use and the need for stringent norms to ensure tobacco-control.

Strategic and extensive PR has helped the NGO to be recognized as a credible body in the space of tobacco-control. Through collaborated efforts and large scale public health awareness campaigns gutka and paan masala have now been successfully banned in the state of Maharashtra. The ban came into effect on July 20, 2012 and has been extended for another year now. This is seen as a significant milestone in the on-going effort to purge the nation of the tobacco menace.

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