Swatothon'10, preventing tobacco use by mobilizing youth

Swatothon 2010, one of the events organised by SWAT 2010 (Students Working Against Tobacco) was held in Mumbai, where participants cycled all the way from IES Bandra to Haji Ali and back in an attempt to bring about awareness about the ill effects of smoking. The cyclothon was flagged off by Member of BJP and renowned fashion designer Shaina NC, cricketer and owner of ISM, Nilesh Kulkarni and Member of Parliament, Vinod Tawde.

Promoting it on social networking sites like facebook and as "OUR WAR AGAINST TOBACCO", SWAT is an initiative that is focussed on preventing youth aged from 12 to 19 from smoking. With its tagline "Be Smart, Don't Start", this event received an overwhelming response, with about 200 participants supporting the cause on cycles from all over the city. Through this activity the students plan to make the people of Mumbai aware that leading a Tobacco Free Life will enable them to be fit and fine, feel positive and lead a great life ahead towards a Smoke Free World. As it is an initiative by youth, there is a definite understanding and connectivity to other youngsters and the activities are created keeping this in mind.

SWAT is a social initiative by the students of EMDI Institute of Media & Communications and is also a registered NGO since 2004. The basic objective this year is to create awareness against tobacco consumption, through a series of events from 11th-15th November in different parts of the city followed by a grand finale in the form of a rock concert on November 16 at the Bandra Fort.

SWAT 2010 is the result of about two and half months of planning and hard work by the students of EMDI.

Prachi Babla Event Head, SWAT Student Cell said, "Swatothon is our war against tobacco and we want to promote the Pedal Power for Our Better Future and expect Mumbaikars to participate in large numbers in our fight against Tobacco".

SWAT 2010 commenced with a march by students of EMDI to Tata Memorial Hospital followed by a blood donation camp at the EMDI campus, Lower Parel on November 11. The next day the event was graffiti by students from various colleges in Dadar and Matunga. EMDI students performed street plays at different locations across the city on November 13. Today a gaming competition will be conducted between the various clans of the city.

As a part of their awareness programme, SWAT has also gone all out with flash mobs in various malls across the city, gaining huge eyeballs and making a definite impact with the audience.

Talking exclusively to Adgully, Deepak Choudhary, Managing Director ' India, EMDI Institute of Media & Communication said, "SWAT is a cause related NGO which we (EMDI) run since 2004. We realize there is an age group from14 to 19, if we prevent them from smoking, we can make a 90 percent of difference. Taking this point ahead, we formed this NGO. We realized we could stop them by doing light activities like street play where smoking is portrayed to be un-cool, for example where you see the girl going with the guy who doesn't smoke. This year in five days, we have put together 17 events which reach the audience. Last two days we have been doing flash mobs at various malls, where a large group of people just collapse together and then a placard is held after which they disperse. This gives us a lot of eye balls. Moving forward we have a smoke free rock concert at Bandra fort."

"The clear objective of SWAT is to prevent people from the age of 14 ' 19 from smoking. Plus our students at EMDI get learning out of this. Our campus is smoke free campus and we won't find any smoke vendors around. Students internally get motivated and even quit smoking. We are making our efforts," he further added.

SWAT 2010 is highly visible with its various media partners on the digital and print front and it hopes to have a lasting impact to make this initiative a success. | By Janees Antoo [janees(at)adgully.com]


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