Health in the Media

This blog looks at health issues in the news

Innovative New “I’ll Quit When I’m 30” Campaign Launched

tallmariah via flcker

“I’ll Quit When I’m 30.” – A phrase common among smokers today who are not quite ready to give up the cigarettes. Many young people are putting giving up smoking on the long finger in the belief that if they give up before their 30th birthday, they can reverse the damage smoking has done to their body. Now this demographic is being targeted  in a new anti-smoking campaign created by the Irish Cancer Society which emphasizes the effects that smoking can have on looks. It’s no secret that most people start smoking during their formative years.  Many teenagers begin the habit smoking due to being bombarded  by images of people in the media who they aspire to be like-  people who look impossibly independent, glamorous and skinny while inhaling on a cigarette.  They make this connection between smoking and looking sophisticated.

There have being many anti-smoking campaigns  in recent years with the New York Health Department efforts being particularly noteworthy due to their very graphic ads.

The department justifies it’s reasons for the ads saying: “When science tells us that smoking does not cause lung cancer or that obesity is not driving an epidemic of Type 2 diabetes, we will stop depicting those facts in ads. Until then we are going to accurately convey the facts in our advertising — advertising that has helped to successfully reduce smoking in New York City to a historic low of 14 percent, saving thousands of lives.” Those kind of statistics are hard to argue with.The ads are, by anyone’s definition, unsettling. Due to ads like this, people know the effects of smoking only too well in today’s society. The containers themselves brandish threats of impotency, mouth cancer and an early death in conjunction with frightening pictures of the damage smoking can cause. A recent article on the Herald.ie states that Ireland Euro health experts predict that our  cancer rates could rise by as much as 72pc by 2030 with smoking, diet, obesity and lifestyle being blamed by all groups for our rise to the top of the cancer league table. So why is this information not enough to persuade young women to put down the cigarettes?

Tayrawr Fortune via Flickr

Model agencies leading agencies, Storm, Elite, and Next committed to a ‘No Sunbed’ policy in conjunction with Cancer Research UK’s new campaign,  which is cleverly named R UV UGLY? (referring to the damage that sunbeds do), approach the topic of raising awareness of the dangers of using sunbeds by playing the looks card rather than the health one.  Ask any tanorexic why they stopped using sunbeds and they are much more likely to say, “it was giving me wrinkles” than “I was worried I might get cancer.” Rather than focus on diseases they may or may not get twenty years in the future, the “I’ll quite when I’m 30” campaign approaches the issue in a way that is more on their level. Emphasizing the fact that cigarettes will age you and will make you “ugly” is more likely to frighten a teenage girl  a lot more than saying she might have trouble breathing in her sixties. This approach seemed to work for the American Legacy Foundation who launched such a  campaign which led to an estimated 450,000 fewer teenage smokers across the country. Images such as the ones used by the New York Health Department don’t work.The statistics prove that they do. But while campaign’s such as these will influence seasoned smokers who already experiencing health problems from their habits, they can seem a million miles away to your average 17 year old who is at the peak of their fitness and who’s main concern is being half a stone lighter to look like their idol.

mark sebastian via Flickr

Health in the Media talked to a spokesperson for the Irish Cancer Society about the campaign.

How did the idea for the campaign come about?

This  is the first major advertising campaign which targets young women. The Irish Cancer Society launched the campaign to coincide with Ash Wednesday which is National No Smoking Day. The Society has recently stated that it has major concerns around the number of young women who smoke and this campaign encapsulates the need for action. Using youth media, online communications, social marketing and guerrilla advertising, the campaign aims to have young women to think about quitting and to direct them to support services so that they are successful.

Is there proof of this kind of campaign working in other countries?
There is evidence that media campaigns can have a positive effect on smoking rates. Media campaigns like this serve the dual purpose of acting at an individual level and encouraging people to stop smoking and on a broader social level by influencing attitudes towards smoking.

Christi Nielsen via Flickr


Why do you think women will respond more to losing their looks then health problems?
We think that women will respond to all the negative effects of smoking which we are highlighting- the damage to their health, their looks and their lives. We are also highlighting the fact that women often ste milestones for when they will quit smoking- turning 30, getting pregnant, getting married- but then fail to stick to those plans. With this campaign we are asking women to take control, set a quit date, get the support they need to quit and stick to their plan.
How did Grace Batterberry get involved in the project?
We asked Grace Batterberry to get involved because she has been a fantastic role model for people who want to quit smoking through her involvement with Operation Transformation. Grace is a really positive example of how women can successfully quit smoking. Many women are reluctant to quit smoking becuase they are concerned that it will cause them to put on weight. Grace has shown that it is possible to quit smoking and lose weight.
Do you think the price of cigarettes should be raised?
The Irish Cancer Society has contiually called for the price of cigarettes to be raised. Price increases have been shown to enocurage people to quit smoking, particularly young women.
How have people responded so far to the campaign?
There has been a very positive response to the campaign with lots of people contacting our National Smokers Quitline on 1850 201 203 and visiting www.quit.ie for support with quitting smoking.

xkorakidis via Flickr

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One thought on “Innovative New “I’ll Quit When I’m 30” Campaign Launched

  1. You are SO right!! You feel so invincible when you are young – thinking about when you are 60 just doesn’t happen at that age…

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