Telling someone to quit smoking, is synonymous to telling your best friend that the guy she likes; is just not that into her. She probably knows it, and you and your friends definitely know it, but at the end of the day, it’s her choice to keep sending desperate messages, and a smoker’s choice to keep smoking tobacco.
Tobacco control campaigns around the globe work very similarly to how you would approach your lovesick friend. There is already an established knowledge of the harmful effects of smoking, and smokers are exposed to the graphic warnings of their actions, making them even more so aware of the risks, and yet they still continue to smoke tobacco willingly. (Keane, 2018) Previous initiatives were symbolically either the nurturing empowering friend, or the brutal, truthful one. But what is usually missing, is the empathetic one; one that understood that often people giving up an addiction isn’t a choice – it’s just impossible to stop.
So how can initiatives work successfully in controlling the use of tobacco?
Florida’s ‘Tobacco Free Florida’ campaign focuses on understanding ‘the reasons’ behind why people smoke, and furthermore why they can’t stop. It utilises an empathetic lens to drive its initiative to both inspire, and helps others experiencing the same difficulty to also make a change. Instead of using aggressive advertisements, they use positive mindset goals and testimonials, to inspire people to seek help and help others in quitting tobacco use.
The slightly different approach allows the campaign to create a relatable framework that simplifies quitting, and shows an understanding that smokers already realise the risks and responsibilities that come with smoking tobacco, they just need a push towards why they should quit. Listening to things that resonate with a dominant amount of the smoking population like “It takes energy from me, it slows me down, it’s costly. I spend a little over $6 for a pack of cigarettes, if you calculated what I spent in a week, it’s terrible, I could probably pay for my family’s bills. It’s embarrassing.” [Video below] , shows the smoking population that they are not in this alone.
Christy Lanier’s testimonial for the Tobacco Free Florida campaign.
This initiative saw positive results within the first two years, where Florida’s adult cigarette smoking rate had decreased from 19.3 percent in 2011 to 16.8 percent in 2013. (CDC, 2013) Their progress continued to grow, showing encouraging signs in their ‘3 ways to quit’ platform, where in only one year, over 93,000 Floridians used this platform that utilises web coaches and in-person classes in collaboration with the Florida Area Health Education Centres to assist people in their journey to quit smoking. (CDC, 2013)
This isn’t saying that the friend who tells you ‘he’s just not interested’, isn’t effective in changing one’s choices – because for smokers; strong evidence proves that alarming graphic advertisements are effective in reducing youth participating or beginning to smoke (CDC, 2015).
However, for those that are already in too deep; well, sometimes they just need an understanding friend.
- Alma Agency. 2018. ‘Tobacco Free Florida – The Reasons, Christy’, Christy Lainer, Youtube. Accessed on the 11th January, 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3RpdEqnk6w>
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2013. ‘Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System Prevalence and Trends Data’, Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. Accessed on the 11th January 2018. < http://tobaccofreeflorida.com/powerfuladswork/>
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2015. ‘Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students—United States’, 2011–2014. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 64(14);381–385. Accessed on the 11th January 2018, < http://tobaccofreeflorida.com/powerfuladswork/>
- Keane, L. 2018. ‘Campaign of the month: Tobacco Free Florida – the reasons’, Campaign of the month, global web index. Accessed on the 11th January 2018, <https://blog.globalwebindex.com/campaign-of-the-month/tobacco-free-florida/>
- Tobacco Free Florida Website <http://tobaccofreeflorida.com/> Accessed on the 11th January 2018