Over 42,000 Romanians die each year from smoking induced illnesses: cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pulmonary disease, but also other associated illnesses (diabetes mellitus, endocrine diseases, tuberculosis). In other words, five Romanians die every hour because of these diseases, which could be prevented and controlled by quitting smoking.

In this context, the Pneuma Medical Foundation marked the World No Tobacco Day (31 May) with a campaign inviting all those who want a tobacco-free life, either smokers or non-smokers, parents and children, healthy or ill, to ask authorities for an increase in the budget allocated to the prevention and treatment of smoking.

Five people die every hour due to smoking

Screenshot 2015-09-05 23.04.53The objectives focused on raising the public profile of the National Stop Smoking Program and of the Pneuma Medical Foundation, as well as on restoring on the public agenda the urgent need to prevent and fight the harmful consequences of smoking. Another objective was linked to increasing the awareness of smoking-related diseases.

To highlight the severity of the consequences of smoking, on World No Tobacco Day we held the “Smoking is not a way of life. Smoking is a way to die” press conference, in the memory of the 42,000 people who die each year from diseases caused by smoking. The event concept aimed to confront journalists with the actual experience of patients who die because of smoking, dramatizing their suffering.

At the beginning, the organizers, who were wearing black, and the journalists held a minute’s silence in memory of those who have passed away. A participant simulated an “live death”, thus memorably conveying in an unusual way the fact that five Romanians die every hour of smoking-related diseases.

Six TV stations (Pro TV, Antena 1, Romania TV, Prima TV, Realitatea TV, and Digi24) aired 15 times the news according to which five Romanians die every hour due to smoking. Just three days after the press conference two news stories published on Realitatea.net and Yahoo News Romania generated over 8,000 Facebook shares.

The number of people who used the National Stop Smoking Program services in the next month (June) increased by almost 50% compared to regular monthly usage.

Smoking isn’t a game – this was the main lesson. And also that smoking means death, suffering, and drama. Most of the times these threats seem distant, but the idea of bringing them in front of the people and dramatizing suffering was useful, even if unpleasant.

“Five people die every hour due to smoking” was the news of the day on May 31, in particular on the internet, where it quickly went viral and was shared more than 8,000 times.