Author - HN Koong
“One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.” -William Osler
This quote from the father of modern medicine beautifully encapsulates the fundamental concepts of advocacy work: education, collaboration and empowerment. Advocacy; A once foreign concept to me, it has now begun grow close to my heart and take roots in the soil of my beliefs as the golden ticket to effecting positive change in public health.
As part of my journey of transition from a pharmacist to a medical student, I have had the privileged opportunity to experience and be a part of a youth advocacy movement against tobacco use (Tobacco Free Generation, TFG) This was my second dabble with advocacy work – the first being a mere few months prior to this trip. Whilst the first opened my eyes to the evident importance of youth-driven advocacy work, this trip very much crystallized my conviction that the raw untapped energy of youth can be harnessed to drive positive social movements.
Together with two youth leaders, Dr Lynn Ong, and Jessica Koong, led by a founder, Dr Koong Heng Nung, our team worked tirelessly over a week. We convened with local policy makers for planning of TFG future advances, met with community leaders to introduce the concept of TFG, and trained local youth leaders in advocacy work and public speaking.
While it was indeed heartening to hear the policy makers and the community leaders express enthusiastic support for TFG, what impressed most strongly upon me was the work that was done involving the local youth leaders. The youth leaders were carefully selected from an impressive myriad of backgrounds ranging from poets, to public speakers and actors. Over days of assiduous coaching and mentoring by Lynn and Jessica, we witnessed the blossoming of the initially taciturn youths, leaving the confinements of their reticence to become independent and convincing advocates for the vision of a tobacco free generation.
I came away from this experience with two convictions that stood out as veridical to me.
First: I saw how raw youthful enthusiasm can be, and ought to be harnessed and channelled towards creating prodigious change in public health. The Tobacco Free Generation has been exceptionally successful in gaining traction in various international communities for this very reason: it recognises the untapped energy and virulent influence of youths and uses it industriously to drive positive social movements.
Second and more importantly: The Tobacco Free Generation end game concept distinguishes itself from other anti-tobacco and end game strategies by a single simple ingenious strategy. It creates no divide between the smokers and non-smokers, but rather, takes on the fight against tobacco-use from a refreshing angle. By doing so, TFG successfully removes the banality from the usual platitudinous teachings about the harms of smoking and bands the smokers and non-smokers, creating a greater reckoning force in the fight against tobacco.
It was great to have your team and you in our school, raising the awareness of the ill effects of smoking and t introducing to them to the TFG 2000 proposal.
Your team’s sharing has been engaging and impactful. The questions asked in the sessions and video presented enabled my pupils to be constantly reflective and insightful. Our pupils mentioned that the talk was meaningful.
Thank you so much for taking the time to come to our school to share with our pupils.
Mdm Wendy Ng
Nan Hua Primary School
5 and 7 August 2019 : Four 17 year old students who learnt about TFG last year, stepped forward to explain TFG to the younger peers as part of their Community Outreach Project. There was immediate engagement as they were sharing as peers. They were neither imposing a top down enforcement nor showing the deaths and diseases of nicotine addiction. They discussed.
The TFG Movement in Bataan started in 2016, and has completed its information campaign this year with 44,173 students from 44 junior high schools who committed to never smoke in their lifetime. (PR)
“Those who were born in year 2000 pledged not to smoke, sell or attempt to use tobacco. All those who were born before year 2000, however, are expected to support the new generation,” Bea Camille Santos, 18, said.
The student from Balanga City said that the new generation should not discriminate against smokers, rather show them care in the hope that they will stop smoking. (PNA)
Endgame initiatives are designed to change/eliminate permanently the structural, political and social dynamics that sustain the tobacco epidemic, in order to achieve within a specific time an endpoint for the tobacco epidemic
2010 Editorial “Imagining Things Otherwise” by Prof Ruth Malone. Benowitz 1994, Borland 2003, Callard 2005, Khoo (TFG) 2010, Procter, Thomson
2011 The start of the Tobacco Free Generation Endgame Social Movement in Singapore lead by the founder.
2012 World Conference On Tobacco Or Health : Endgame in Tobacco Control ” Radically Dangerous, Visionary Leaders or both?” Tobacco Free Generation was very well accepted at this international meeting in Singapore
2013 The start of the Tobacco Free Generation Endgame Education Modules
2014 Tobacco Free Generation received multiple international endorsement and global traction
2015 Tobacco Free Generation Endgame Social Movement starts in the Philippines.
Here is a sampling of the various teaching modules that we conduct to audiences from as young as 10 years old to community leaders or parents/grandparents of any age. We can teach a class of 20 to a school hall of 2000 learners, customising the teaching material to their understanding. We will also show much freely available, internet material.
A social movement requires all stakeholder groups across the community/society to be engaged, unite around the ideology and embrace it as the social norm. Has your programme achieve this level of engagement? We can guide you to do start this TFG educational journey.
The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) has slammed the actions of the Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI) for filing legal challenges to tobacco-free regulations passed by the small city of Balanga.
‘If Philip Morris is genuinely supportive of a smoke-free world, it should be supporting and not opposing Balanga’s efforts to protect present and future generations from the harms of tobacco and nicotine addiction, in line with the global health treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC),’ noted SEATCA FCTC Program Director Ulysses Dorotheo.