Tobacco: Campaigns & Promotions

Background on Campaigns & Promotions


expandWhat are campaigns and promotions strategies?

collapseWhat are campaigns and promotions strategies?

  • Intervention tools utilized to educate the public about tobacco use and encourage tobacco use cessation.
  • Messages can be conveyed through television and radio advertisements, press releases, letters to the editor, posters, billboards, brochures, clothing, stickers, websites, and a number of other communication channels. Many of these campaigns use well-known public figures, such as sports figures, to convey their message. One of the most important lessons learned from previous work is the importance of using consistent messages across a variety of communication channels (e.g., print, television, radio).   
  • Using specific tobacco messages, campaigns and promotions can:
    • highlight the association between tobacco use and health outcomes (e.g., cigarette smoking and lung cancer)
    • promote behavioral change (e.g., smoking cessation)
    • improve knowledge about the benefits and challenges to tobacco use cessation (e.g., increased energy, weight gain)
    • change community norms (e.g., create non-smoking restaurants or work with teens to create youth influence against tobacco use)
    • encourage smoking prevention (e.g., educate the public on the benefits of never beginning to smoke)

expandHow do campaigns and promotions impact tobacco related behaviors?

collapseHow do campaigns and promotions impact tobacco related behaviors?

  • Campaigns and promotions are useful in developing awareness about the association between tobacco use and quality of life. Because increasing knowledge and awareness is often the first step in behavior change, campaigns and promotions may be particularly useful in helping individuals become ready to change their behavior.
  • Previous research suggests school-based interventions combining campaigns and promotions with other intervention strategies that encourage parental involvement are more effective at keeping young people from initiating tobacco use than campaigns and promotions alone.

expandWhat are mass media campaigns and how can I use them in my tobacco intervention?

collapseWhat are mass media campaigns and how can I use them in my tobacco intervention?

  • Tobacco campaigns and promotions include mass media campaigns. This intervention tool is designed to increase knowledge and awareness about the relationship between tobacco use and health and change attitudes and community norms about tobacco use. Such campaigns translate what are often complicated tobacco use messages into specific, easily understood, messages.  Typical messages may provide information about the health benefits of quitting and effects of second hand smoke, instill confidence in ability to quit smoking, and create a positive view of not smoking. Previous research emphasizes the importance of using consistent messages across a variety of media channels (e.g., print, television, radio). For example, a mass media campaign may be utilized so that the messages aired during teen television and radio shows support a classroom curriculum promoting smoking prevention.
  • One of the strengths of mass media campaigns is their ability to reach and educate large numbers of individuals about tobacco.  If, for example, a mass media campaign in a large metropolitan area addresses 500,000 individuals and successfully decrease the rate of tobacco use in 3% of the population, then the campaign has impacted the health of 15,000 individuals and their families (decrease in secondhand smoke).  Additionally, mass media campaigns can minimize staff time once the campaign is up and running because individuals independently read, watch, or listen to the messages.  They can also be relatively less expensive per person if the intervention is targeting a large community. Reaching this many people through other intervention strategies may require more time and funding than available.  Finally, the messages and materials have the ability to be reused or updated for long-term efforts.
  • Alternatively, mass media campaigns (particularly television advertisements) can be very expensive to create and maintain and may seem impersonal to individuals in need of social support.  In addition, these campaigns are difficult to evaluate in terms of measuring how many individuals actually received or read the messages, whether individuals changed behavior as a result of the mass media campaign, and whether the behavior change is sustained over time.

expandWhat should I consider when developing messages for my tobacco intervention?

collapseWhat should I consider when developing messages for my tobacco intervention?

  • The duration of campaigns and promotions influence their effectiveness in changing tobacco use behavior. While small-scale campaigns with specific messages tailored to population subgroups are more effective than larger campaigns among these groups, they have lower overall population impact.  Likewise, longer, more intensive campaigns featuring frequent messages through a variety of communication channels are more effective in changing behavior as well as maintaining behavior change over time, but are far more complex and costly.
  • The most appropriate messages and ways to communicate those message may differ depending on the population.  Campaigns and promotions may be intended for an entire community or they can be targeted to meet the needs or interests of a particular group. For example, an anti-smoking message may be geared toward young people and delivered by peers in a commercial.   Alternately, messages may be conveyed in different languages and address cultural norms in different communities (e.g., Spanish, Vietnamese).
  • Messages are often most effective if they are geared toward specific changes in knowledge, attitudes, or beliefs about smoking that are particularly salient for the group of interest. For example, young people may be more influenced by messages about having good breath and saving money than messages about long term health risks.
  • Campaigns and promotions can provide direct messages about tobacco use prevention and/or cessation (e.g., smoking causes lung cancer) or indirect messages about changes in behavior, environments, or policies that lead to decreases in smoking initiation or increases in smoking cessation. For example, a campaign or promotion could be used to support smoking bans or raise tobacco tax.  While general research suggests the importance of framing messages positively rather than negatively, negative messages (e.g., the harmful effects of tobacco use) have proven to be more effective in increasing tobacco use cessation than those framed positively (e.g., showing the benefits of quitting). In addition, promotional items may be used to promote awareness of (i.e., branding) of the intervention or enhance ability of individuals to engage in desired behavior(s).

expandWith whom should I work to create the best message for my tobacco intervention?

collapseWith whom should I work to create the best message for my tobacco intervention?

  • It is helpful to work with different community members and organizations to determine the most appropriate messages and routes of communication. Examples of potential partners include:
    • health educators
    • mass communication
    • behavioral psychology
    • TV stations
    • Businesses
    • local fitness clubs
    • media networks
    • magazine distributors
    • professional sports leagues
    • local community organizations
    • national health foundations (e.g., American Heart Association)
    • state, local and regional offices
    • health departments
    • newspapers
    • sports/outdoor organizations
    • hospitals
    • local work places
    • universities
    • local restaurants
    • grocery stores
    • local health clinics
    • schools
    • hospitals
    • parks and recreation
    • zoos

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