June 13, 2022
Each year, the tobacco industry spends millions of dollars on media and marketing to promote and normalize tobacco and increase its consumption, especially among youth. As per the latest data, the prevalence of tobacco use among adults in the region is relatively high compared with the global rates. Rates of smoking reach around 41% in Jordan, 22.8% in Egypt, 20.7% in Iraq and 31.3% in Palestine according to STEP surveys or population studies.
In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, there is a great need to build on the COVID-19 response momentum and call on governments and civil societies to enforce smoke-free laws and implement other tobacco control policies and to disseminate targeted mass media messages to support and encourage smoking cessation.
In response to this need, a mass media campaign United Against Tobacco and COVID was launched to disseminate country-tailored and culturally appropriate risk messages to highlight the harms of tobacco, educate and promote tobacco use cessation, while aiming to change tobacco-related behaviors in the region.
The launching took place in Amman, Jordan, on June 6, 2022. This campaign comes just a few days after World No Tobacco Day to announce the beginning of the dissemination of tobacco control harm messages in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine and introduce the partnerships and collaborations behind this campaign. The campaign will air on T.V., radio, as well as on social media in selected countries to reach smokers and those whose loved ones include smokers.
The campaign is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is led by GHD|EMPHNET with technical assistance from Vital Strategies. Partner organizations include Ministries of Health in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine, as well as the Royal Health Awareness Society in Jordan, Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University in Palestine, United Iraqi Medical Society for Relief and Development (UIMS) in Iraq, and Cairo Association against Smoking, Tuberculosis and Lung diseases- in Egypt (CASTLE). The campaign is supported by a Technical Advisory Committee composed of WHO-EMRO, CDC-MENA, CDC-Egypt, UNICEF and SESRIC.