IndiaVsTobacco campaign launched by Health Minister;Scan for a healthier future”interactive billboards take over the city of Bengaluru

Pramesh S Jain & Yogesh K Porwar

Today the  Minister for Health and Family welfare and Medical Education,Dr. Sudhakar K.launched the #IndiaVsTobacco campaign, which engages young people, parents and institutions to work towards a tobacco-free India,by unveiling QR code-enabled billboards and posters in Bengaluru.

The interactive billboards aim to generate conversations about the health risks that tobacco inflicts on our society and spread awareness on the harms of secondhand smoke.

Led by State Health Department,Government of Karnataka,and technical partner,Vital Strategies, the billboards will run till World No Tobacco Day, 31st May 2022 at prominent public places in the city.

Nearly 1.2 million people,including 65,000 children,die every year from conditions directly related to secondhand smoke from cigarettes or bidis.

Each of the billboards illustrates secondhand smoke and is covered with tobacco smoke (from cigarettes and bidis).

This hides a key fact about secondhand smoke that people can view only through their phones using the QR code,which reveals the hidden message when the code is scanned.

The billboards and posters are being deployed in and around public areas in the city to engage the public and especially young people with messages primarily on second-hand smoke exposure and its deadly health impact.

The complementary social media promotion of this campaign will also include messages on the harm tobacco causes to the environment,fitting with this year’s theme for World No Tobacco Day:

“Tobacco: Threat to the Environment.

Dr.Sudhakar K,Minister for Health and Family welfare and Medical Education states:Secondhand smoke is one of the major culprits of ill health that most Indians face whether they smoke tobacco products themselves or not.

This is why there needs to be more awareness and discussion on why and how we can become a smoke-free,tobacco-free society.

I am sure the interactive billboards and poster will raise necessary awareness among public, especially among our youth”.

Dr.Selvaraj, Deputy Director,Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka said,Though we have seen the decline in prevalence of smoking in the state,yet there is a need to strengthen and intensify the efforts,especially targeting the youth population to prevent death and diseases among this productive age group.

Public education campaigns such as #IndiavsTobacco will contribute towards our commitment towards tobacco free generation”.

Vaishakhi Mallik,Associate Director (South Asia,) Vital Strategies, said,The idea was to shine a light on the health impact that secondhand smoking has on everyone and that it cannot be taken lightly.

We wanted to create something that would pique people’s curiosity enough to stop and engage with the billboard and then help spread the message of tobacco-free India to their peers and family.

The intention is to make people rethink tobacco use, given how harmful secondhand smoke can be to people’s health.