Smoking rates are at an all time low with statistics showing that 12 to 17 year olds are smoking far less than ever before. Professor Simon Chapman at the University of Sydney attributes the campaigns of the late 1990s as a strong contributing factor for this decline in Australia.
TV, print and other media campaigns like ‘Every cigarette is doing you damage’, with its highly graphic depiction of the internal damage of smoking, has been effective.
Studies show that smokers have usually developed a smoking habit in their teens or before they reach the age of 25. The tobacco industry specifically targets teenagers or as they refer to them ‘replacement smokers’. Public health organisations therefore have shifted their focus over the years to target teens too, in an effort to increase the proportion of young people who would report having ‘never smoked’. So far results from years of data collection show its working.
Professor Chapman noted that the statics immediately following the release of the ‘Every cigarette is doing you damage’ education campaign, showed an “unprecedented fall in teenage smoking,” he told Australian ABC News.
The campaigns on TV showed ghastly surgery procedures and decayed body organs, intended to shock adults with concerns for their mortality. However what the evidence shows is that it has been the most effective with the children in the room, far more than their parents.
Stricter rules limiting access and opportunities to smoke cigarettes have been implemented in Australia over the last 40 years. Notably with plain packaging laws coming into play, tobacco advertising being pulled from sports coverage and smoking being banned from a great deal of public spaces.
The change in laws as well as strong education campaigns have had the desired effect. Evidence clearly shows it has detered people from smoking and shifted the entire culture around smoking over a generation.
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