Are Smoking Campaigns Effective?

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I smoked for five years and I quit smoking about two years ago. I wasn’t a heavy smoker because I usually smoked about ten cigarettes a day and only when I had stressful meetings.  Quitting, nonetheless, isn’t easy.

How did I quit smoking?

First, by adjusting the number of cigarettes I smoked per day and then by choosing weaker ones. Step by step, I finally managed to kick that old habit and now I am healthy non-smoker. It is great.

Why did I want to quit smoking?

Because I realized it was so damaging for my body. I hated the smell, the nausea, and the fact that I was spending money to destroy my health. It was a wake-up call. It didn’t have anything to do with the disturbing messages on the packages, the creepy ads on TV, or the banners on the street. This got me thinking on how effective these smoking campaigns are. Do they really have the power to change something or they are just money spent in vain?

Researching this particular issue, I discovered a study of Hye-Jin Paek, an assistant professor at the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He claims anti-smoking ads are mostly effective when they convince young people that their friends are listening to the ads. Most people start smoking at a young age, usually between fourteen and eighteen when they are strongly influenced by their friends. The ads appear to stimulate mostly the rebellious and curious nature of youth, making them more interested in smoking. These results are based on 1,700 middle school students studied, and results show that the anti-smoking ads have the greatest impact on smoking behavior when adolescents think that their peers really listen to the messages presented in such ads.

The survey was mostly based on asking students about anti-smoking ads and their intentions to smoke. Researchers found that overall, the more the students were exposed to anti-smoking messages, the more inclined they were to smoke. The exception was when exposure to anti-smoking ads was correlated with a reduced intention to smoke and occurred among students who said their friends were influenced by anti-smoking messages. Results suggest that campaigns don’t convince people to stop smoking, but help them change the social norms surrounding smoking. Now that’s something to consider.

I found a really disturbing ad against smoking recently that really scared me:

But I don’t think that these ads would have had any impact on me while I was still smoking. When I saw anti-smoking ads, I usually thought “Oh yeah, well they’re made only to scare people off.” I used to believe that it was all about marketing. But, the fact is these ads really aren’t.  Cigarette companies are. I know lots of people who have cancer because of smoking. I think that these anti-smoking ads are more effective when we face these real life health problems due to smoking. When a friend, someone from our family (or even we, ourselves) get sick, we really start to understand how damaging smoking is. It’s so sad that it goes like this. We should really take care of ourselves and our health, because it’s when we don’t have it anymore, that we long for iit the most.

What do you think? Are anti-smoking campaigns effective or not?

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