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General News of Friday, 26 May 2017


Anti-smoking campaign targets girls

An anti-tobacco campaign to discourage girls and women from smoking has been launched in Accra. The two-year empowerment campaign, dubbed “SKY Girls”, is under the theme, “Be true to yourself”.

It is meant to encourage girls to make a commitment and pledge to be true to themselves with regard to values they desire in life and the things they can do without, such as drinking and smoking.

The campaign was organised by Now Available Africa (NAA), a pan-African agency based in Accra, in collaboration with Good Business, a private United Kingdom (UK)-based consulting company, whose aim is to control tobacco use among young adults.

SKY?Girls is also funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the objective of empowering girls and building a resilient generation of young girls who will support one another to be confident and true to whatever they believe in.

Global tobacco survey

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tobacco use is a major cause of premature death and diseases worldwide.

Currently, about 5.4 million people die each year due to tobacco-related illnesses, a figure expected to increase to more than eight million a year by 2030.

SKY?Girls also reports that about 10.6 per cent of teenage girls globally aged between 13 and 15 are believed to use some form of tobacco; therefore, SKY Girls chose this age range as their target audience for the campaign.

The latest tobacco product, “shisha”, has also been reported and marketed as a cool and sophisticated product and the youth are being encouraged to use it.

Traditionally, Ghana has recorded one of the lowest rates of tobacco use in Africa; however it is feared that the trend will change if not controlled.

Purpose of SKY Girls

The Director of Business Development of NAA, Ms Venus Tawiah, explained to The Mirror that the campaign was launched to encourage girls to be clear about their values, say no to tobacco use and also create something they can belong to.

“Already, there have been successes of the SKY Girls movement in Botswana and Uganda, where smoke-free messages were used in the context of topics girls are interested in such as fashion, friends and music,” she explained.

A Strategy Officer of NAA, Ms Ivy Aning, said the agency conducted a study in Accra to identify what drives young girls to smoke.

Their findings revealed that teenage girls took up smoking to find themselves and for social inclusion, believing that friends were the only ones that understood how they felt and, therefore, smoked to belong.

She also emphasised that most teenage girls knew and understood the risk of smoking but did not care as they only wanted to fit into a particular class of people.

“Some girls simply do not know how to say no to smoking; therefore are easily influenced by the pressures from friends and media,” she noted.

Ms Aning stated that these findings had helped them adopt innovative strategies such as market activations to connect with the girls on the street, as well as using different media, including online, radio, social events and a quarterly magazines, that will be distributed to selected schools in the country.