Media workshop – Tobacco control more than a health issue


At a two-day media workshop in Moscow, Russian Federation, journalists and communication officers from the 11 newly independent states were introduced to tobacco as much more than a health issue. The 60 participants in the workshop were inspired to write about the many facets of tobacco control through presentations by international experts, and by champion countries giving examples of what they have implemented, their effects and the challenges they faced.

The marketing ploys of the tobacco industry, illicit trade, taxation, marketing and corruption were some of the themes presented by international experts and discussed by participants. These topics provided the basis for writing stories about the effects of smoke-free public places in the hospitality sector, the impact on the environment – from clean air to the cost of cleaning up litter from cigarette stubs – and the complex issue of personal freedom: the choice to smoke versus the right to live in a smoke-free environment.  

Participants were given an introduction to WHO data sources, and how to use these data to make stories stronger and to build on individual stories. Available data sources allow reporters to see which policies a country has in place and policy development over time, and to investigate the demography of tobacco use and health-related consequences.

Dr Oleg Salagay, Spokesman of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and Dr Haik Nikogosian, Special Representative of the WHO Regional Director for Europe, punctured some of the common myths about tobacco control. They also gave journalists insight into the obligations of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), equipping them to highlight issues and question the extent to which governments live up to the obligations of the WHO FCTC.


A roundtable of tobacco experts, leading nongovernmental organizations and international journalists answered questions from participants and underscored the value of learning from others' experiences. It is the aim that this community of reporters will follow and be inspired by each other's work through the hashtag #TobaccoFreeMedia.

The workshop was made possible by funding from the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.