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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: The faith-based tobacco control initiative took advantage of the cultural diversity and the volatile religious makeup of the Nigerian population for positive tobacco control messaging. This initiative focused on faith leaders as agents of tobacco control, through messaging in cultural and moral context. More than 80% of the 140 million population of Nigeria are devoted members a religious faith. The leaders in these faiths have great moral control over the actions of their followers. 50 million of the population are Muslims, and more than 70% of them uneducated, depend on their religious leaders for instruction, direction and moral education.
Methods: The initiative focused on educating the faith leaders about tobacco, exposing them to facts about the health hazards of tobacco use, and the strategies of tobacco companies in manipulating facts to gain bigger markets by promoting tobacco use to underage and young adults. Efforts were made to encourage the faith leaders to provide our us access to their followers, thereby giving us more coordinated audience of the more vulnerable population.
Results: 85% of the faith leaders were ignorant of the health risks in tobacco use. 60% of them agreed to educate their followers about the dangers in tobacco, using religious and moral appeal. Over 85% of the followers, stated that they are willing to quit smoking. Our scope was limited to one religion in the northern Nigeria. There is need to implement this strategies in other parts of Nigeria and in other developing countries, with similar religious composition.