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Anti-smoking campaign needs new strategy

Proactive and eye-catching anti-smoking marketing campaigns will go a long way in educating young Samoans on the dangers of tobacco consumption.

Executive Director Dr Walter Vermeulen of Matuaileoo Environment Trust Incorporated (METI) said this recently in an interview with the Samoa Observer. 

He said the issue of enforcing tobacco control laws to minimise the impact of second-hand smoking has got more to do with poor education and minimal awareness by the Samoan Government. 

According to Dr Walter, the Government is fighting the issue by increasing tobacco retail prices and prohibiting tobacco product advertisements, but there is still room for improvement.  

“Educating is important and once schools are more quaint to the dangers of tobacco, the better students at a young age realise, that smoking kills and adhere to tobacco control,” he said.

Anti-smoking marketing campaigns, Dr Walter added, should be proactive and eye-catching while long texts on billboards should be avoided. 

“We really need some humorous, proactive and educational advertisements that really catches the eye. The big billboards with long texts, no one has the time to read those things,” he added. 

Reflecting on anti-smoking marketing campaigns in his young days, Dr Walter said a picture of a woman smoker – before and after 20 years of smoking – had a big impact on how he saw tobacco. 

“It is through educating and spreading awareness that people realise the real issue with smoking,” he said and indicated that it was a major factor behind chronic lung diseases, asthma, heart conditions and the most common forms of cancer. 

“Tobacco is like a toxic bomb that you are inhaling every minute you breath, whether you are a smoker or not,” he added.

Dr. Walter said tobacco smoke has more than 50 toxic chemicals that cause cancer and in an enclosed area, the toxic smoke stays in the air for more than four hours – increasing the risks for non-smokers. 

“It is absolutely essential that we stay away from tobacco in any form and take responsibility of your own health if you want to get rid of the addiction then stop immediately,” he said.

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