The reasons for quitting smoking and vaping are obvious, as a deadly virus is spreading around the world, and much of it affects the respiratory tract. It is likely that very few smokers need to be reminded of the health risks involved. Breaking such an addiction isn’t easy, however, especially given the added anxiety during such stressful times.
In recent years there has been a shift away from the kind of fear tactic and guilt-driven messaging that was once synonymous with cessation campaigns. A 2018 Alma anti-smoking campaign ditched this tactic to focus on the bigger reasons smokers wanted to quit.
Conveying warmth instead of burning
The new campaign of the California Tobacco Control Project is led by the independent agency Duncan Channon in San Francisco in collaboration with the multicultural agencies Acento and Apartnership. The effort takes another step away from the old scalding method and toward a more warm, encouraging direction. An attempt is made to instill an awareness of the difficulties vapers and smokers face. The ads confirm that breaking their addiction by sharing stories of former smokers and vapers who found their way to the other side is often a long and arduous process. These stories are told through animations from production partner Nexus Studios that bring their different stories and personalities to life. Each ad ends with viewers being directed to NoButts.org or the CA Smokers Helpline for help.
Knowledge is not enough
Education about the health effects of vaping is likely to remain an important part of anti-vaping efforts for the foreseeable future. However, knowing about the harmful effects of these habits is not enough. Anne Elisco-Lemme of Duncan Channon explained that both smoking and vaping should be understood as addictions, which often start at a young age and are difficult to break.
“When it comes to nicotine addiction, smokers and vapers don’t lose that it’s a real battle, and that addiction has serious health implications. One of the things that we found really interesting when we talked about addiction is that there is a lot of self-loathing in it. We found that smokers and vapers need a tremendous amount of empathy because what they’re going through is a really difficult process, ”Elisco-Lemme told Adweek. “This lifelong addiction is really hard to break. We wanted to pay respect to this fight. “
“What we can no longer do is make smokers and vapers guilty and feel like we did something wrong,” she added. “We have to be so much more sensitive.”
Created by ex-smokers for smokers
Elisco-Lemme explained that the creative team members behind the campaign were themselves ex-smokers or vapers, which helped them bring a greater level of empathy and insight into the campaign. In particular, former smokers or vapers who tell their stories in the ads share relatable anecdotes about all attempts and phases along the way. One unintended effect of the approach, Elisco-Lemme said, was to generate more empathy among those who have never smoked or vaped, which can hopefully lead to a better understanding of friend and family support during the early stages of the process not all lead the way to kick the addiction.
“Most of the time, being on the path to becoming a non-smoker or a non-vaper takes dozens or dozen of attempts. We wanted to normalize this process so that someone who fails in an attempt doesn’t actually fail but is on the way to quitting, Elisco-Lemme said. “It’s like building muscle. You have to stay tuned. Your brain is learning how to get addicted, so you have to learn how to quit. “