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Country: Uganda
Title: Case Study: Mobilizing Public Support: Uganda Radio-to-SMS Campaign and other
Offline/Online Community Outreach Activities
Date: January 2013 May 2014

The Uganda Mobile SMS Radio Campaign and Petition was launched as part of a broader effort in
2013 to pass a comprehensive Tobacco Control Bill. The Tobacco Kills: Say No and Save Lives
campaign was a countrywide advocacy and public awareness campaign that was spread across
social media, mobile SMS, and radio. The initial goal was focused on passing a comprehensive TC
Bill by June 2013.

The Ugandan social media campaign is heavily driven with using both online and offline activities
to increase awareness on tobacco harms, and mobilize support for the proposed tobacco control
bill by signing a petition. Outreach using communications vehicles that target audiences in the rural
non-urban communities have been highly integrated into the social media campaign, focused on
building a community of engaged public supporters regardless of social status and access to
modern technology. The actions included a Radio to SMS campaign using community radio
programs, Roadshows, and grassroots community events.

The Radio to SMS campaign has been a big success, resulting in more than 50,000 actions. In total,
more than 70,000 petition signatures have been collected in favor of a strong TC bill. Thanks to the
multi-channel outreach efforts, its been possible to collect stories and information from people in
rural areas as well as urban, bringing the TC message to all parts of Uganda. Members of
Parliament have begun engaging with people through all of these channels as well, demonstrating
the power and strength of these outreach efforts.

Examples of Actions

RADIO-TO-SMS: Radio Edu-Drama Series (May-July, 2013)
In collaboration with community radio stations both in urban and rural areas, ran a radio
educational-entertainment drama (edu-drama) series focused on building awareness on
tobacco harms and the campaign to pass a comprehensive national tobacco control bill.
Storyline centers on a youth ex-smoker who quit smoking after attending a health
workshop about dangers of tobacco and who becomes a youth champion against tobacco
use. The story unfolds as to why/how he became a smoker in the first place i.e. he used to
go buy cigarettes for his Dad.

Episodes (x30) were aired in either English or one of 5 other local languages (depending on
Each 2 minutes (English) episode played 3 times a day, 3 episodes a week.
At the end of each episode, listeners were encouraged to opt-in via SMS to show their
support for the campaign and receive more information. Listeners who opted-in received 3
SMS messages per week (informative, quiz/question & reminder).
The first couple of weeks drew in 258 opt-ins (English) and 941 (Luganda) via SMS.
Example of SMS with a question: What's your biggest achievement? Quit smoking or know
someone who has? Share now! Reply STOP7<space><answer>to 8282 or Share on Facebook
Example of response received: stop7 at one tym in ma lyf, I smoked lyk crazy bcoz i wanted 2
gt warmed up weneva it ws cold en smtymz I did it wen I ws sad, lonely, in deep thought or
wen I ws pissed. bt I dnt wan 2 go on w it, so I quit

RADIO-TO-SMS: Radio DJ Mentions (October 2013 to present):
Collaboration with radio stations to engage listeners on tobacco control issues using DJ
mentions, spot ads and DJ talk shows driving them to the SMS platforms to get more
information, sign the petition and show their support.
The collaboration kicked off with a sensitization workshop for stations talk show hosts, DJs
and station managers at 5 radio focused on tobacco control issues, including information on
the proposed bill at the parliament.
Spot ads aired at least 4 times daily with opt-in to SMS information on varying options,
including Dangers of Tobacco; How to Quit; Info on TC Bill; Be a Supporter; and Sign
In the first 2 weeks of the DJ Mentions radio-programming format, 9730 people had signed
the petition.

January 2014 June 2014
The Roadshows were developed to give an opportunity for grassroots and media advocacy
outreach tailored for specific communities based on their needs and opportunities for
engagement targeting community grasstops, grassroots, and children.
Using the SMS messages sent in from communities across the country, the campaign
reached out to followers who had indicated that since hearing the spots on radio, they had
rallied their community to support the bill.
The campaign then organized Roadshows to some of these communities.
In partnership with other tobacco control civil society organizations, the campaign worked
together with the Ministry of Health and the District Health Officer in the selected
TC Ambassador and popular Radio DJ, Patricko Mujuuka, participated in some of the
Roadshow activities, engaging one-on-one with community members, and using his
celebrity status to draw large crowds to the Roadshow activities.
The Roadshows helped in sensitizing the communities on the provisions of the proposed
bill; as well as educated the advocates on issues faced by the communities. For example, see
below report back from a Roadshow to a tobacco growing area.

SMS-to-Opinion Poll (April and May 2013)
Through SMS, the campaign conducted 2 public opinion polls:
April 2013: Should taxes on tobacco products be increased?
485 participants
Questions sought the publics views on increasing tax on tobacco products, finding that 89%
of the population supports the tax increase.
This data was used to strengthen MPs and civil societys position to push for tax increment
on tobacco products in the 2013-2014 National Budget.
The result was included in a petition to the Budget Committee submitted by the
Parliamentary Forum on Non-Communicable Diseases.
The government announced in June 2013 that excise duty on tobacco would be increased in
the 2013/14 Budget.

May 2013: On smoke-free environment in Uganda
180 participants

Bottles of Butts Butts (May 2013)
Campaign taps into that spirit that every action we have affects and influences the lives of
Advocates used the offline opportunity to raise awareness on the impact of cigarettes not
just on health but to the environment by using empty plastic bottles to clean up littered
cigarette butts in the community.
Collaborated with City Yange, a community-based organization in Kampala, during their
community clean-up focusing on tobacco effects on the environment as part of the global
campaign to grab 5 million cigarette butts off the streets by 2014.

The target was the community of Ggaba and at least 4 community organizations including
the local Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), the police and water department, and the
local church.
The kids in the community were the most enthusiastic about this activity and were eagerly
looking for cigarette butts.
The community as a whole was surprised at the number of bottles of butts that were
eventually collected.
The posting on this event was the fifth most engaging post on Facebook in May 2013.

Ambassador Program (November 2013)
Share key messages and other campaign plans.
Use their celebrity access to call on petition signers to continue to show their support
Participate in Roadshows
Make short videos
Share campaign social media posts with their followers.
Reach out to other celebrities to show support.

Using the SMS messages/posts for advocacy (2014)
Share interesting SMS received by finding out more information behind the stories and
building on them on radio and social media.
Share community support SMS with MPs via flyers and also create customized messages for
specific MPs mentioned
Start #sharewithcommunity campaign on radio & social media inspired from SMS by
people who shared about tobacco control in their communities.

Hip Hop Theatre (2013-2014)
Bonfire Uganda is a creative performance arts group which uses its platform, the Hip Hop Theatre,
in partnership with the TC coalition, to create awareness on the TC bill.

Examples of Work


Lead actress on edu-drama series

Using SMS messages from followers to create infographics that are shared with MPs

The Hip Hop Theatre

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Bloggers Sensization workshop

Ambassador program

National Rugby Captain Micheal Woko now a TC Ambassador

DJ/Comedian Patrick Mujuuka now a TC Ambassador

Roadshow: Sharing campaign materials with the army in Bukomansimbi community

School children perform at Bukomansimbi Roadshow

TC Ambassador Patriko on the Bukomansimbi Roadshow with Ugandan Ambassador to

Nigeria His Excellency Kagimu Kiwanuka