It’s often forgotten that the harmful effects of smoking were only discovered during the 1950s and the 1960s. Over seventy years later, a colossal amount of research has come to the fore to emphasize the risks associated with cigarettes. At this point in time, we now know that there are no real benefits to smoking, perhaps besides the satisfying yet addictive nicotine rush that many people fall victim to.
With smoking often being referred to as a vicious cycle, it comes as no wonder as to why many people grapple with the idea of quitting. Fortunately, the impact of anti-smoking campaigns in the UK has continued to skyrocket in recent years, having offered millions of people encouragement to give up smoking. This support is only continuing to grow, and it seems as though the effectiveness of these campaigns remains to be promising. Smoker or non smoker, here are the UK’s most successful quit smoking campaigns that are worth knowing about.
PHE’s Health Harms Campaign
Launched in 2018, Public Health England’s Health Harms campaign released an informative video featuring an experiment which demonstrated the detrimental health effects of smoking in comparison to a non smoker or an e-cigarette user. The campaign heavily praises the use of vaping devices as an effective quitting aid, giving smokers the chance to possibly change their perspective on the usage of vaping devices. The campaign also offers several downloadable resources which encourage smokers to learn about the damage that cigarettes cause to our health.
Through their campaign, PHE states that some smokers can be deterred from using vaping devices due to personal fears regarding the safety of e-cigarettes. In fact, PHE revealed that many smokers believe vaping is as harmful as smoking, while others aren’t aware that e-cigarettes present a significantly lower risk to their health. On a fundamental level, the purpose of the Health Harms campaign is to disseminate the proven facts associated with both smoking and vaping, while offering a sense of reassurance from an authoritative standpoint.
As part of vaping awareness month, VApril is an anti-smoking campaign focused on encouraging smokers to quit with one particular smoking cessation tool: e-cigarettes. The definitive health effects of vaping devices may still be unclear, but hopeful studies from the likes of PHE have claimed that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. With this optimistic fact held high, the campaign serves to educate smokers and non-smokers alike about the differences between vaping and smoking, and encourages avid vapers with success stories to speak out and help others.
VApril has been a hit among those committed to quit, with a recent poll of 2,000 people revealing that 74% of smokers were influenced to switch to vaping through the campaign. Certainly, what is even more encouraging to know is that over 3 million people have now made the decision to quit cigarettes and transition to vaping as an approved alternative.
Recognised by many, Stoptober is an annual NHS campaign in October with the purpose of persuading smokers to give up cigarettes for 28 days. In doing so, it’s hoped that participants will continue to cease their cigarettes usage, and eventually live smoke-free. It’s believed that if a smoker can quit for 28 days, they will be 5 times more likely to quit for the long term.
For those who are nicotine dependent, this may sound like an impossible feat. However, the campaign aims to instill motivation and courage into smokers through further support, including their official Stoptober app, a Facebook Messenger bot, daily emails, access to Stoptober online communities, as well as a personal quit plan.
Collectively, these resources can help smokers to receive personal support, inspiration, and even insights into how much money they are saving while separating cigarettes from their lives. This hugely influential quit smoking campaign has been running since 2012, and in this time, they have helped to free 2 million people from cigarettes.
In 2020, healthcare workers at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust launched the Quit Together campaign, which encourages smokers to “make a promise” to quit smoking to not just protect themselves, but those who they hold closest in their lives. The reasons for quitting smoking can span far further than a person’s individual health. For many people, their driving force for giving up cigarettes is for the health of others. Whether it’s for a pet, pregnant partner, or young child, having a personal motivating factor can often prove to be effective.
The campaign’s official website offers useful resources for helping smokers quit, as well as supportive messages and information regarding smoking’s complications with pregnancy, mental wellbeing, and physical health conditions. Their website also provides real stories from those who have successfully quit, allowing smokers to find determination again when the end of their journey seems far out of reach.
Studies have so far presented us with the evidence that those who smoke are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms. In unity with the #QuitforCovid campaign, Quit Together also serves to educate people about the dangers of smoking and COVID-19.
“Don’t Wait” NHS Campaign
In early 2021, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Lothian joined together to create the “Don’t Wait” anti-smoking campaign with the goal of reminding smokers that it’s “never too late to change”. All too often, many of us fall into the trap of repeating the phrase “I’ll try again tomorrow.” Whether we say this by means of delaying a new diet, fitness regime, or our own professional development, staying with this mindset can prove to create a cycle of unproductivity and prolonged stress.
The TV led campaign features NHS respiratory consultant Dr Colin Church, who emphasizes the severe threat of COVID-19 for smokers, and highlights how a person’s health can improve as soon as they quit. After encouraging smokers to visit their local stop smoking service, the phrase “it’s never too late to quit smoking” is repeated again in the video. It’s expected that this message will resonate in those who have delayed their quitting journey for one reason or another, acting as a crucial sign that it’s time to change.
Jennifer Williams is a Staffordshire based copywriter with notable expertise in the travel, fitness and well-being sectors. While studying English and Journalism at Coventry University, she worked as a freelance copywriter for a variety of different industries and niches.