With New Year and New Year’s resolutions just a heartbeat away it seemed appropriate to share news of the latest campaign designed to help people quit smoking. Confession alert!
My name is Gerry and I am a (reformed) Smoker.
Sorry. Bet you were really hoping that I was still a hopeless addict weren’t you?
But hey, I have SUFFERED enough. Put addiction into the Thesaurus and you get, compulsion, dependence, need, obsession, craving. Not a nice place to be in…and I’ve been down that long dark road!
So…I was interested to read the following
The Department of Health is spending £2.7m on a nine-week campaign of graphic advertisements warning smokers that as few as 15 cigarettes can cause a cancerous tumour.
The TV and billboard ads, which show a tumour developing on a cigarette as a man smokes it, are being introduced after research showed that more than one in three smokers believe health risks associated with their habit have been overplayed”.
Having had a look at the latest advert it set me wondering just how effective these types of campaigns really are? Matthew Wright, The Wright Stuff, recently invited his audience to ring in with their views on a similar item, the decision to show pictures of people with cancer and disease caused by smoking on the packets. General consensus on the phone in (and the panel) was that these campaigns don’t really work.
But, the coalition (having done a U turn on public health advertising campaigns) assert that:
….the hard-hitting “fatty cigarette” campaign in early 2004, which depicted deposits being squeezed from a smoker’s artery prompted many smokers to try to give up”.
The latest tumour ads are targeted particularly at young people who may not have not seen such graphic warnings since then. The campaign is being accompanied by a renewed effort by NHS stop-smoking services to help those who want to quit.
Ok, so I get it…it’s for the benefit of young people who may not have seen or have an awareness of just what devastation smoking can cause. Hm. Hang on! Aren’t these also the group of people who are programmed to take risks and (by hormonal default) have a strong sense of invincibility?
Martin Dockrell, head of policy at Action on Smoking and Health, agrees saying
“Most smokers say they want to quit and tend to be prompted to act by public service ad campaigns and as New Year resolutions. The problem is that smokers tend to under estimate their risk and also think of the risks and benefits as being far in the future”.
True to say that £2.7m is a mere snip by comparison to the £5 billion (allegedly) spent on patients with smoking related diseases. But, could the money be better spent? And how? Prevention maybe? Stopping kids starting in the first place?
I haven’t got the answers to these questions but will watch with interest. I’ll also be writing more about how I (very reluctantly) gave up smoking, and how after 25 years, I’m still in ‘recovery’!
Denis Campbell, health correspondent