Singapore cited as leader in tobacco control

SINGAPORE - Singapore's anti-smoking measures have been lauded by the author of the latest Tobacco Atlas, Dr Michael Eriksen.

When asked what he thought about the Health Promotion Board's initiatives in curbing smoking, the professor said he was very impressed with Singapore's measures, particularly the youth programme 'Breathe'.

He said the campaign is a "state of the art approach" to getting kids' attention by creating a brand they identify with instead of a deluge of information on the harmful effects of smoking.

'Breathe', a youth-focused online portal targeting Singaporean youths aged 14 - 25, uses multiple digital platforms to provide content to and engage them in discussions on health issues.

Likening it to a similar campaign in the US called 'Truth', Dr Eriksen said: "It (Truth) is focused on criticising tobacco companies, but over here, Singapore is celebrating health and getting kids to really see health as a value".

"I think that's how you get youth involved".

The founding director of the Institute of Public Health at the Georgia State University was speaking to AsiaOne after the launch of the 4th edition of The Tobacco Atlas at the 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health.

Held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, the atlas was unveiled together with its companion website by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation.

The Atlas graphically details the scale of tobacco use, progress that has been made in tobacco control, and the latest products in the tobacco industry - such as the development of smokeless products, which is banned in Singapore.

Designed to be an advocacy tool, the atlas will be distributed to Ministries of Health in lower and middle-income countries and healthcare professionals.

Currently it is in the English language but will be translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish later this year.