Posted on February 2nd, 2012 in Tobacco

Despite the country being in a state of recession, funding is still allocated both federally and locally for healthy lifestyle promotions. The largest amount of money goes to anti-smoking advertising and has for some time now. With tough economic times upon us, we’ve seen the amount of money given to anti-smoking campaigns dwindle but never go away entirely because, despite there being less money to spend on making people aware of the dangers of smoking, data has proven that this money is well spent.

Between 1998 and 2005 the national smoking rate has dropped by 13% and the youth smoking rate dropped by 40%. In recent years, we’ve seen those numbers level out a bit (the national rate is sitting around 20% and the youth rate has slowed it’s rate of decline to 21%) and many are suggesting that the slowing can be directly attributed to decreased funding; given that funding began taking cuts around the same time the rates declined by smaller percentages.

Both the CDC and FDA will continue to roll out new awareness campaigns detailing and educating about the dangers associated with smoking. Money may be tight but you can’t ignore the data. Anti-smoking campaigns actually work. According to the CDC, anti-smoking advertising’s message is educational but the real power of persuasion comes in its ability to demoralize smoking. That is to say, people are less compelled to quit because of the health facts and more by advertising’s ability to make smoking a socially unacceptable practice. Dirty looks and overly-theatrical coughs will make any smoker feel like a jerk; just try to light up at a crowded bus stop plastered with anti-smoking posters and see how other people react.

As if the data showing a positive return on advertising investment wasn’t enough for agencies to continue funding these campaigns, newer data is emerging showing that every dollar spent on anti-smoking advertising shows up as savings somewhere else: health care costs. Many states have noted that with an increase in spending on preventative tobacco campaigns, they have seen a direct correlation to a decrease in health care costs as they relate to smoking-related illnesses.

Anti-smoking campaigns work and the more we put into them, the more we get out.