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ASH Thailand has alleged that Philip Morris International has written to the country’s Ministry of Public Health in an effort to prevent a new law on tobacco control being passed. The law was due to be fast-tracked earlier this year following delays the public health minister reportedly blamed on the agriculture and finance ministries. It has since been further delayed amidst accusations of tobacco industry lobbying.

If passed, the new law will increase the legal age for purchasing cigarettes from 18 to 20, tighten advertising and marketing bans—including on social media—and prohibit tobacco industry corporate social responsibility initiatives. According to ASH Thailand Secretary General Prakit Watheesathokkij, PMI’s letter argued that Thailand’s existing tobacco control laws are sufficient for educating people about the harms of smoking and preventing uptake.

The tobacco industry is up against a formidable and very creative foe in Thailand, which has a long history of strong tobacco control action, with both ASH Thailand and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation providing leadership in the Southeast Asian region. The Thai Health Promotion Foundation’s latest campaign uses dead smokers’ lungs to send a direct message to smokers—literally.

The Message From The Lungs opens with blank ink dispersing into water and a paint brush making a bold black stroke on canvas, with the words: “This is not ordinary ink. Because it was the life’s work of a man. A man who spent 50 years of his life to make every drop of it…by smoking every day”.

It goes on to explain how Thai Health teamed up with the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University to make ink extracted from the tar in lungs donated by smokers. The ink was then bottled and used to create artwork for ads. Samples were also distributed in public spaces as part of exhibitions to convince people to quit.

According to Thai Health, the campaign has resulted in a five-fold increase in quit smoking program participation.

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