Uruguayan football star Diego Forlán leads PAHO/WHO campaign against tobacco

No smoking sign

With the slogan "Don't Buy Lies," the campaign seeks to raise awareness of the effects of tobacco and the deceptive nature of tobacco marketing

Washington, D.C., 3 July 2013 (PAHO/WHO) — The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) has launched an anti-tobacco campaign featuring Uruguayan football star Diego Forlán. It seeks to raise awareness among young people in the Americas of the harmful effects of tobacco and the deceptive nature of the tobacco industry's marketing campaigns.

The campaign is linked to World No Tobacco Day, 31 May, 2013, which this year called for banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. In the Americas, only Panama, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, and Suriname currently have such bans.

The campaign consists of a series of posters and public service announcements (PSAs) featuring Forlán and the slogan "Don't buy lies." In one of the PSAs, Forlán tells viewers to distrust tobacco advertising. "I like to play a full 90 minutes, so I didn't let it manipulate me. I chose not to start smoking. Don't pay attention to tobacco advertising and sponsorship."

A campaign poster reads, "You think smoking makes you more attractive? Don't buy lies. Tobacco ages your skin and stains your teeth." Forlán's advice: "Make the choice, don't smoke."

Today, young people, and young women in particular, are the main targets of tobacco industry marketing. "Most tobacco advertising is aimed at the psychological needs of adolescents, such as popularity, peer acceptance and a positive image of themselves," said Adriana Blanco, PAHO/WHO regional advisor on tobacco. Tobacco advertising "creates in them the false perception that smoking will meet those needs," she said.

The PAHO/WHO campaign is also aimed at decision-makers, appealing to them to support laws that meet countries' obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which has been ratified by 29 of 35 countries in the Americas.

For the 2013 World No Tobacco Day, PAHO/WHO called on the countries of the Americas to completely ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, as one of the most effective measures to reduce tobacco consumption.

Smoking kills 1 million people every year in the Americas. Sixteen percent of adolescents ages 13 to 15 in the Americas consume some type of tobacco.

Diego Forlán is one of the most well-known football players in the world. He has played for clubs including Club Atlético Independiente (Argentina), Manchester United (England), Villareal (Spain), Atlético de Madrid (Spain) and Inter Milan (Italy). In 2010, he was chosen best player at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

PAHO was founded in 1902 and is the world's oldest international public health organization. It works with countries to improve the health and quality of life of the people of the Americas, and it acts as WHO's regional office for the Americas.