In Ontario, about two million people continue to smoke. On average, we know that smokers attempt to quit about once per year, but only about 2% of those quit attempts are successful. In order to truly make a substantial dent in smoking prevalence, we need to increase the rate of quit attempts in our community. We know that health concerns are the number one reason why people quit smoking.
Hearing stories from former smokers about the ways that tobacco has negatively affected their lives can help motivate them to quit. – We started the Media Capacity-Building Project because we saw an opportunity to work with local public health units to help them use the media to stimulate quit attempts in their own communities. Alongside policy and program approaches, the use of the media is one of the key interventions that we have in tobacco control. Published evidence has shown that testimonial-based campaigns featuring hard-hitting messages about the health consequences of smoking can increase the rate of quit attempts. This evidence comes from national and state-wide campaigns. What is lacking, however, in the evidence base is the role of local media strategies. – Six projects were selected to participate in the Media Capacity-Building Project, and the Program Training and Consultation Centre provided training, consultation, knowledge exchange opportunities, and a small amount of funding, which the health units matched through in-kind contributions.
– The Media Project kicked off with an in-person workshop in Toronto in November of 2016. As part of the training, we provided skill building in the areas of campaign planning, message development, and testimonial recruitment. – The Program Training Consultation Centre developed a number of resources to support the public health units to create and implement their campaigns, including media toolkits, a testimonial interview guide, how-to documents. All of the resources that were developed for the project were later made available to all health units across the providence. – We also supported the project by creating our working groups that participants could provide the campaign updates, share challenges they’d encountered, and discuss lessons learned. As part of these meetings, we also provided additional training opportunities, which included a webinar-based training series. – For each stage of the project, we provided hands-on consultation support for each of the project participants.
This support came in the form of providing advice and feedback on their campaign plans, on any of the draft materials that they created, and to connecting them to information and resources that they needed to move their projects forward. – So York Region Public Health saw this project as an excellent opportunity, as it was using an evidence-based approach to encourage quit attempts among adults in York Region. We had never created a local cessation campaign featuring former smokers’ testimonials before. We know that stories can be a powerful tool to engage with your audience, and it was a unique approach to engage the York Region client voice. – When we first heard about the Media Project, we were in the process of developing a campaign to promote our directory of cessation services, and we thought it would be a really good fit to integrate the testimonials of former smokers into this already-existing campaign. – We felt a little apprehensive at first about recruiting for the campaign, as we had never done this before. So we didn’t know whether we would have one person or 20 come forward and how we would narrow it down to select from the different stories and whether or not we would have people come forward who had experienced the negative health effects of smoking.
– We put a little bit of money behind ads on Facebook, and we got nearly 30 submissions within a week or two. People really wanted to share their stories. There were applicants from all across the northwest region and a real variety of stories to pick from. – Even though all the public health units were working under a very similar umbrella, they all had a very unique approach to go about recruiting testimonials, developing ads, and then sharing them in their communities. – A key take-home from the Media Campaigns was just how impactful local testimonials were at capturing the community’s attention. And those who were featured in the campaigns actually became mini celebrities, and others within the community came forward to thank them for sharing their stories and inspiring them to quit.
[A Customer Came Up To Me And Told Me] [That I Have Had The Biggest Impact On His Life] [As My Story Inspired Him To Quite Smoking. John] – This was a really great opportunity to try something new, to do some things we’d never done before while learning some new skills, as well as connecting with community partners and just really building relationships with people in our community. – The Documentations of Practice Project captures local public health units’ innovative tobacco control practices. We document health units’ experiences with developing and implementing initiatives like the Media Campaigns, using interviews and document reviews. And we share the lessons learned, though conferences, webinars, and reports so that other public health professionals can learn how to adopt similar initiatives in their own communities. – In a lot of instances, public health campaigns have focused more on the how-to-quit message as opposed to the why-to-quit message. With media campaigns featuring testimonials from former smokers talking about the negative health consequences of smoking, it really is that why-to-quit message, and this has been a real shift in thinking for a lotta public health folks.
As found on Youtube