Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Beyond Smoking Kills

I’ve had my attention drawn to Ash’s report, Beyond Smoking Kills: Protecting Children, Reducing Inequalities.  The copyright on the report means I can’t quote directly, but they make a number of points that will be of interest to readers of this blog.

The authors of the report argue that tackling the uptake of smoking by young people’s will be at the heart of the strategy for reducing adult smoking rates.  However, reducing the numbers of children and young people starting to smoke is not something that it will be easy to achieve.  They say that children and young people’s attitudes and initiation into smoking is principally down to adult smokers and consequently education will not be enough to change the situation.

Indeed they argue that the evidence that school based interventions change behaviour is limited beyond delaying the uptake of smoking.  To support this they cite School-based programmes for preventing smoking and A systematic review of school-based smoking prevention trials with long-term follow up.

Nevertheless the authors do see a need for smoking cessation services to be in schools arguing that these services need to be where people are living their daily lives and open at times when they can access them.

They also argue for mass media campaigning which they argue is effective as part of a broader strategy.  They point to the role that the media campaigns by the California Tobacco Control Program has had on changing the social norms around tobacco.

The report also contains some new research into perceptions adult and young people’s perceptions of the marketing and branding of cigarettes which included 806 young people (both smokers and non-smokers) aged 11 to 17 years.

Packaging News which covers the report says:

Packs displaying the words ‘smooth’ and ‘gold’ were considered “lower tar and lower health risk” than regular packs, while lighter colours gave the impression of being less harmful or easier to quit. When asked to compare plain versions of packs, where only the brand name was present on a brown or white background, participants were “more likely to indicate there were no differences between the risks of these brands”. “Certainly young people are three to four times as likely to report a preference for a branded pack,” says McNeill.

The report argues that stripping out the branding could have a dramatic effect on the attractiveness of the product.


I’ve just read the following on the EMCDDA’s site that adds to my understanding of what is effective in mass media campaigns

Mass-media campaigns in combination with other components (school-based, community-based and national programmes) have preventive effects on consumption behaviour (in relation to tobacco) (Friend & Levy, 2002; Hopkins et al. 2001).

Isolated mass-media campaigns do not reduce consumption (of tobacco) (Friend & Levy, 2002; Hopkins et al. 2001). Youth-orientated media campaigns are more effective as part of national programmes than as part of community programmes (in relation to tobacco) (Friend & Levy, 2002).

There’s more there should you be interested.


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One Response

  1. […] this research seems to be somewhat at odds with the way that young people view tobacco branding, where as Packaging News reported: When asked to compare plain versions of packs, where only the […]

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