Smokers challenged to ‘fight back’

Smokers in Birmingham East and North are being urged to ‘fight back’ in order to improve the health of the population in a new hard hitting stop smoking campaign from the NHS.

Despite a falling national trend of successful quitters, NHS Birmingham East and North is making an ambitious move to achieve the lowest smoking prevalence of any core city in the UK – 15 per cent by 2018.

The ‘fight back’ creative shows the face of a bloodied and beaten up man with the strapline, “Smoking. GBH to your insides”; “When you smoke, it’s your insides that get beaten up” or “Cigarettes attack you. But in ways you don’t always see”.

Created in partnership with Dr Foster, the campaign is aimed at resistant, hardened smokers from deprived areas. It encourages them to consider (or reconsider) giving up by acknowledging the tough ‘fight’ they’re in and the damage they are doing to their insides as they get ‘beaten up from within’.

The campaign will include a mix of advertising, PR, and experiential marketing activity as well as a 60 second film directed by Rankin. NHS Birmingham East and North is aiming to reach every single one of the target smokers at least six times during the two month campaign period.

Celebrity photographer Rankin has also been secured to make a 60 second promotional film to be shown on the mobile exhibition unit.

Despite NHS Birmingham East and North hitting its targets for the number of people succeeding in giving up after four weeks last year, the number countrywide is going down. This is, in part, due to the smoking ban and the difficult financial times.

Many remaining smokers have tried to quit before and failed and are thus more reluctant to try again; and finally, while these smokers know it’s bad for them, they see it as their ‘one vice’ and, put simply, they enjoy it.

Most of today’s smokers are therefore the hardest to reach, with the most entrenched behaviours. So to make a significant impact, a successful stop smoking campaign now needs a radically different approach.

The ‘fight back’ campaign is intensive and very focused, specifically targeting C2DE white males aged 35-55 living in the most deprived areas of east and north Birmingham (5th quintile).

Catherine Tomaney, head of Stop Smoking Service NHS Birmingham East and North, said, “Reducing health inequalities is one of the most complex and important tasks facing the whole of the NHS. In east and north Birmingham there is as much as six years’ difference in life expectancy within a range of six miles.

“To understand this, with Dr Foster we have analysed our local communities, what drives their behaviours, lifestyles and health patterns and developed unique segmentation typologies allowing us to create targeted and cost efficient campaigns.

In helping us reduce smoking and address the critical health problems associated with it, we believe they will make a huge difference to our population. ‘Fight Back’ is just the start in tackling this priority area.”

Joanna Mawtus, creative director at Dr Foster, added, “People have been seeing stop smoking ads all their lives and everyone knows it’s bad for them. It’s old news. Unless we give people a new perspective on it, they’re not going to take any notice. We think this idea does that. In testing, people thought the images they were being confronted with were hard hitting, but also acknowledged that it’s what they need to see in order to change. They’re quite shocking, but then so is the damage smoking causes.”

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