There are advertisements everywhere that try to convince people to quit smoking because of the detrimental effects it has on their health. But you seldom see advertisements that promote the health benefits smokers would gain if they quit smoking. Because positive and negative messages will resonate differently in people, you will need to create messages that have the ability to connect with all members of your audience. Could more positive anti-smoking campaigns be the key to getting more people to quit?
I am not a smoker, but as a health communicator, I take notice of the numerous campaigns that try to get smokers to quit. Rarely do I see a positive message promoting the campaign. Thinking back to when you were younger, how often would you go out of your way to do something even after being told that it was bad for you? We like to think that we are invincible and that we can take part in risky behaviors. We like to think nothing bad will happen to us, and this is especially true of people in their teens and early 20s. But we also like to participate in activities in which we are able to personally receive some kind of benefit. It is that fact that has led some anti-smoking campaigns to take a different approach and promote the benefits smokers can receive rather than just the risks of smoking to quit. Fortunately, smokers don’t need to wait long to start reaping those benefits. Benefits of quitting smoking can be felt almost immediately, and many changes can happen in the first 24 hours.
- Heart rate begins to return to normal levels within 20 minutes
- Heart rate and blood pressure have lowered close to normal levels after two hours
- Within 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels decrease and blood oxygen levels increase
- Within 24 hours, the risk for suffering a heart attack has already begun to decrease
- After 48 hours, nerve endings begin to re-grow and the ability to taste and smell is improved
- Nicotine will be completely out of the body after three days
- Within weeks, lung function and circulation improve allowing you to more easily perform physical activity
- After about a month, lungs begin to repair themselves and their function continues to improve
- One year later, the risk of developing heart disease is decreased by 50 percent compared to if that person were still smoking
- After five years of not smoking, the risk of suffering a stroke is about the same as someone who doesn’t smoke
- Ten years after quitting, the risk of developing lung cancer is roughly half that of smokers and there is a decreased risk of developing a number of cancers, including mouth, throat, and esophagus
- After 15 years, the risk of developing heart disease is the same as someone who doesn’t smoke
After quitting, a person’s life span will increase and they may be able to enjoy a higher quality of life as a result of a lower risk of developing a number of different serious health conditions.
Quitting smoking is an incredibly difficult task to accomplish because of the highly addictive nature of nicotine. Health communicators must leverage these positive health benefits when constructing anti-smoking campaigns. If your current anti-smoking campaign isn’t producing desired results, you may need to reconsider the focus. Try changing your message to include the positives and see if that change helps your audience make the change for a healthier future.