Changing Smoking Behaviour in Queensland
All By Myself & Your Future's Not Pretty
Smoking is a public health issue that has posed ongoing challenges for government health departments around the country. Queensland is no exception:
* More than 3,400 Queenslanders die every year because of smoking and over 35,000 people are admitted to Queensland hospitals for smoking-related illness each year.
* Estimates show the cost of smoking to the Queensland community is $6.3 billion in health costs, lost productivity and premature death.
However, in recent years the challenge facing the Queensland Government has shifted and become multi-pronged:
* Smoking rates in Queensland increased in 2012 for the first time in more than a decade.
* Health surveys showed that smoking rates in Queensland among young females spiked by 17.3%.
* Health surveys also showed that smoking rates remain high among adults aged 25-44 years old with children at home or those who are considering having children.
Like the rest of us, smokers know the health risks posed by smoking and yet, among some population groups, more and more people were taking up the habit. The challenge was to develop a campaign that would change behaviour in some very different groups. Research was needed to understand the key issues across the different segments of smokers.
Formative research was undertaken to segment the Queensland smoking population and to understand the attitudes and motivations to smoke and to quit. Smoking statistics pointed to demographic segments requiring attention, but what other factors were important in helping to define the right messages for the right groups?
From this first phase of research we were able to clearly identify some of the key emotions elicited by smoking behaviour, both positive and negative. Most smokers intend to quit at some stage and understanding their preparedness to quit was an important factor in designing and grouping the types of messages that would help to drive the immediate behaviour change we were looking for.
Understanding that for a large segment of smokers that smoking increasingly makes them feel isolated from family, friends and colleagues was a key insight that would be important in developing campaign messaging.
Conversely, for most young female smokers, smoking is a social activity. They feel no isolation or estrangement so other areas needed to be explored. Concern about personal appearance, on the other hand, was a powerful motivator to bring forward the decision to quit.
Campaign messaging was created around these insights and refined through further research.
As a result, two separate campaigns were launched with media and activation strategies based on the target segments.
The All By Myself campaign targeted the larger segment of smokers concerned about the impact of their smoking behaviour on others and the sense of isolation felt. This campaign has since been extended to act as a vehicle for communicating more recent legislative changes in relation to smoking.
The Your Future’s Not Pretty campaign targeted young female smokers, leveraging concern for personal appearance and beauty. As a segment with a worrying upward trend in smoking behaviour innovative campaign activation strategies were rolled out after input from the research. In addition to traditional media approaches make-under booths were rolled out across the state with professional make-up artists making applying make-up to young female smokers to demonstrate the impact of smoking on their appearance. A dedicated website was created including a smoking photo booth to allow people to upload photos of themselves and to see their future if they continued to smoke. This was accompanied by the Quit Tracker app that allows smokers to monitor their quitting progress and keep a smoking diary.
This campaign has since won a number of awards for the innovative activation activities based around the key research insights. Campaign evaluation shows success in not just in research outcomes but also in actual behaviour measured through campaign engagement and Quitline activity.