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October 15, 2019

Media campaign spurs 60% of betel chewers to quit

A mass media campaign to discourage betel quid chewing, launched in October, 2018 by the Ministry of Health and Sports and conducted with the help of the People’s Health Foundation, was highly successful.
A post-campaign survey has revealed that 81 per cent of the respondents remembered the campaign message, and that more than half tried to kick the unhealthy habit.
The smokeless tobacco campaign with the tagline ‘Avoid Betel Chewing So You Don’t Regret Your Life Choices’, launched by Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr. Myint Htwe on 10 October, was designed to raise awareness about smokeless tobacco use in Myanmar and the related health risks.
The campaign objectives were to generate positive changes in the behavior of current smokeless tobacco users, motivating quit attempts and preventing non-tobacco users from starting, and to reduce the social acceptability of smokeless tobacco use. Hard hitting TV spots, radio spots, wall posters and a social media campaign were utilized to drive the message home.
The campaign ran for six weeks, after which a post-campaign survey was conducted to measure the campaign recall and the effectiveness of the messaging. For the study, 2,624 households were visited. Ultimately, 678 respondents (current betel quid chewers) were selected to be interviewed at length.
The research was conducted by Quality Research Firm Myanmar and overseen by the People’s Health Foundation.
“The interviews took place in six townships across Myanmar,” said Dr U Than Sein, President of the People’s Health Foundation. “Our respondents were between 18 and 55 years old, and 88% of them used smokeless tobacco in betel quid on a daily basis. It was very encouraging that 81% of respondents overall, and 89% in urban areas, recalled the campaign message when prompted. In total we were able to reach 22,95 million people in our target group.” “About 96% knew that betel chewing can cause serious illness. They knew that smokeless tobacco use will harm their vital organs and that it is important to try to quit. Revealing is also that people are very aware of the role of tobacco advertising: 63% of respondents believe that tobacco advertising encourages young people to start using tobacco and 69% agree that the tobacco industry misleads the public when saying tobacco is not addictive,” Dr U Than Sein. According to the statistics, 62 per cent of men and 24 per cent of woman in Myanmar consume tobacco when chewing betel quid.
Consumption of tobacco and Virginia leaves-based products is a preventable problem which leads to some 7 million deaths every year throughout the world.
The number of tobacco related cancer patients is predicted to reach 22 million within 20 years, increasing from 14 million in 2012, according to the World Health Organization.—GNLM

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