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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: Between the age of 12 and 16, smoking prevalences increase rapidly. One of the determinants of smoking onset is that youngsters feel that non-smokers are less independent and cool than smokers. To upgrade the image of non-smokers, STIVORO developed the 3-year multi-media campaign ‘…but I don's smoke', which ran from 1998 till 2001. This campaign aimed to improve the attitude towards non-smokers amongst 12 to 16 year old youth. Humour and controversy were used to attract the youngster's attention and gain their appreciation.
Methods: The campaign was grounded in a problem analysis and its components were pretested. The effect of the campaign on attitudes towards non-smokers was measured by means of a pre-test post-test design. Each time a representative sample of 600 youngsters in the age of 12 to 16 participated in face-to-face interviews.
Results: The effect-study revealed a significant change in attitude towards non-smokers. After three years the target population judged non-smokers to be cooler, tougher and nicer compared to the beginning of the campaign. Furthermore, the youngster's intention to stay non-smokers had become significantly stronger. Additional analyses of national smoking prevalence survey data suggests that the campaign has influenced the smoking behaviour of those who where fully exposed to it (a significant decrease of daily smokers at age 15 from 29% in 1998 to 22% in 2001).
Conclusion: In spite of the current general opinion that mass media campaigns to prevent youth smoking are not effective, The Dutch ‘…But I don't smoke' campaign has proven otherwise.