Singapore has been “implementing tobacco control policies as early as 1971” (Lopez, Collishaw & Piha 1994) and is said to have one of the lowest rates of smoking in Asia, at around 13% of the population (Amul & Pang 2018). In line with the guideline set by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Singapore has managed to maintain their current smoking population for the past few years (Amul & Pang 2018). One such example of tobacco control would be the annual ‘I Quit’ campaign, an ongoing anti-smoking movement that was launched in 2011 by the government-run Health Promotion Board (HPB) in collaboration with Ogilvy & Mather Singapore to promote and encourage smoking cessation amongst existing smokers.
The promotion of this campaign in 2011 features an ‘I Quit’ logo as well as posters and a video to create awareness for the various smoking cessation programs run by the HPB. The posters and videos feature a number of smokers holding two fingers up in a pledge, with shirts that state ‘I quit because…’ along with a handwritten reason, making it feel more personalised. The same pledge pose is also used in the logo, highlighting a running theme within the campaign. It is said that this pledge pose is symbolic of “how a smoker holds a cigarette to form a pledge sign” (Missy Lim 2012). As there are a large number and variety of people featured in these posters and the video, it creates a larger sense of inclusion and community, implying that quitters are not alone. This may work as a form of encouragement to quit and correlates with the aim of the campaign. The posters were mostly seen around in Singapore’s public train system, giving the campaign a wider reach.
Rather than trying to scare smokers into quitting, as most traditional anti-smoking campaigns do, with the campaign taking a “pro-quitting approach” which gets smokers to “give up cigarettes by encouraging and inspiring them” (Gallezo-Estaura 2014) instead. This form of advertising is said to be more effective than regular forms of advertising as it gives way to “a new participatory model of communications through peer support, an always-on social media platform and community generated content”(Gallezo-Estaura 2014), adding a more emotional and relatable touch.
It has been said that this campaign “reversed a five year upward trend in smoking in Singapore” (Gallezo-Estaura 2014). In a study of Singaporean youth’s perception of anti-smoking campaigns, the ‘I Quit’ campaign was “commended for being non-stigmatising” and due to its reach on social media, had an “extensive reach as youths were highly aware of this campaign” (Shahwan et al. 2016), highlighting the spread of awareness for this campaign and its programs. In one such program, the I Quit 28-Day Countdown, out of the 10 000 participants in 2014, “57% now smoke less or have quit smoking” (Lo 2015), which shows that the campaign has been rather successful.
Lopez, A.D., Collishaw, N.E. & Piha, T. 1994, ‘A Descriptive Model of the Cigarette Epidemic in Developed Contries’, Tobacco Control 1994, vol. 3, pp. 242-247, viewed 10 January 2019, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1759359/pdf/v003p00242.pdf>.
Amul, G.G.H. & Pang, T. 2018, ‘Progress in Tobacco Control in Singapore: Lessons and Challenges in the Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’, Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, vol. 5, no. 1, viewed 10 January 2019, <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/app5.222>.
Ogilvy Asia 2011, Health Promotion Board – I Quit, video recording, YouTube, viewed 10 January 2019, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_d46RpiENc>.
Missy Lim 2012, ‘Print Versus Online Designing’, weblog, media-diz Blog, viewed 10 January 2019, <http://media-diz.blogspot.com/2012/05/print-versus-online-designing.html>.
Gallezo-Estaura, K. 2014, ‘Check how this campaign compelled many Singaporeans to quit smoking’, Singapore Business Review, 20 June, viewed 10 January 2019, <https://sbr.com.sg/healthcare/exclusive/check-how-campaign-compelled-many-singaporeans-quit-smoking>.
Shahwan, S., Fauziana, R., Satghare, P., Vaingankar, J., Picco, L., Chong, S.A. & Subramaniam, M. 2016, ‘Qualitative study of Singaporean youths’ perception of antismoking campaigns: what works and what does not’, Tobacco Control 2016, vol. 25, viewed 10 January 2019, <https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/25/e2/e101.citation-tools>.
Lo, T. 2015, ‘ ‘I Quit’ campaign helps smokers kick habit’, The New Paper, 26 June, viewed 10 January 2019, <https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/i-quit-campaign-helps-smokers-kick-habit>.
Health Promotion Board 2014, Health Promotion Board Unveils Two-Pronged Strategy to Step Up Tobacco Control Efforts on World No Tobacco Day, Singapore, viewed 10 January 2019, <https://www.hpb.gov.sg/article/health-promotion-board-unveils-two-pronged-strategy-to-step-up-tobacco-control-efforts-on-world-no-tobacco-day>.
Ogilvy & Mather Singapore 2014, Turning Quitters into Champions, Singapore Business Review, viewed 10 January 2019, <https://sbr.com.sg/sites/default/files/imagecache/600×360/news/IQuit.jpeg>.