Tobacco-Free Youth Campaign

Partnership objectives  

Tobacco-Free Youth Campaign with Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfi (TOG) in Turkey to increase the level of awareness and to prevent smoking among young people.

Because people are most likely to begin to use tobacco as adolescents, it is especially important to inform young people about the harms of tobacco. Because people are most likely to begin to use tobacco as adolescents, it is especially important to inform young people about the harms of tobacco. Copyright Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfi (TOG)

What are the health needs and challenges?

The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. It kills nearly six million people a year. Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco and this accounts for one in 10 adult deaths. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.

Among smokers who are aware of the dangers of tobacco, most want to quit. Counselling and medication can more than double the chance that a smoker who tries to quit will succeed. National comprehensive health-care services supporting cessation are available in only 19 countries, representing 14% of the world's population. There is no cessation assistance in 28% of low-income countries and 7% of middle-income countries. Mass media campaigns can also reduce tobacco consumption, by influencing people to protect non-smokers and convincing youths to stop using tobacco.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

For 15-25 year olds to learn for themselves about the effects and impact of smoking and to adopt healthy behaviours, via a high quality training programme and activities.

Through the use of participatory training sessions and social media communications designed to appeal to 15-25 year olds, the goal is to help them to learn for themselves about the effects and impact of  smoking and to adopt healthy behaviours. Because people are most likely to begin to use tobacco as adolescents, it is especially important to inform young people about the harms of tobacco use before they start. Health warnings can be conveyed using many different methods, including warning labels on tobacco packaging and anti-tobacco mass media campaigns.

This project complements Turkish MoH’s smoking cessation campaign, targetting 13,500 young people through the use of a wide range of communications tools and education training sessions. 

A pool of young people has been recruited from within the TOG network of schools and universities to act as ambassadors and peer educators for the anti-tobacco campaign. This approach follows the aim of positioning youth as spokespersons for an anti-tobacco campaign, the social media campaign will also encourage young people to become anti-tobacco bloggers.

Research shows that anti-smoking information should be prepared and presented in ways that address the needs of young people, and the reasons they smoke, rather than to persuade by attempts to scare.

Lessons learned          

Reducing the prevalence of tobacco use cannot be made without strong political will and governmental commitment to adopt and implement robust tobacco control policies.

In this work, countries have a powerful tool in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In 2005, Turkey became a Party to the Convention, and in 2009 Turkey became the third country in Europe to go 100 per cent smoke free, following the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Proven measures to reduce tobacco use include mandatory health warning labels on tobacco packaging and hard-hitting mass media campaigns that show the harms of tobacco use. Correspondingly, the Ministry of Health’s anti-tobacco campaign was published on TV, via the internet, and on print ads warning people of the dangers of cigarettes by emphasizing the suffering that smoking causes. A call center, “ALO 171,” was also started to help people quit smoking.

Broad educational efforts that reach all age groups are considered more effective in influencing youth behaviour than efforts targeted specifically at them from an adult perspective, hence the adoption of the peer educators’ approach of learning via participatory workshops that are fun and relevant to young adults.  

Summary of impact and forward looking information

By end of 2014 6 cities in Turkey will have signed up to the programme and 120 volunteers hired to develop the training and communications materials for widespread dissemination.  1800 young adults are expected to be reached via the workshops in 2014.

Tobacco Free Youth Week Activities are expected in 20 cities.

By end 2015 it is expected 8 cities will have signed up to the programme and 160 volunteers hired.  2400 young adults are expected to be reached via the workshops in 2015. 

Communications tools include the development of an anti-tobacco youth video, specifically aimed at young people and estimated to reach 3,000.  A social media campaign, initiated through Twitter, is expected to reach 20,000 and will be further promulgated by young people being encouraged to become anti-tobacco bloggers themselves. The first-ever youth-led anti-tobacco week of activities, aligned to the WHO World No-Tobacco Day on 31st May, will be led by 20 TOG teams reaching 6,000 young people and is expected to attract wide media attention.

Partnership information

Company(ies) GlaxoSmithKline

Partner(s) Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfi, Turkish Ministry of Health

Type of Partner(s) Government, NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Mental and Neurological Disorders, Non-Communicable Diseases, Women and Children's Health

Disease(s) Addictive Disorders, Adolescent Health, Cancer, Cardiovascular Diseases, Respiratory Diseases, Tobacco Control

Program Type(s) Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Youth

Region(s) Europe & Central Asia

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Turkey

Start Date 2014

More information Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfi (TR)

Anticipated completion date Ongoing