Real smokers - helping us take on a killer through the media
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Fresh-Smoke Free North East, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A740
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Fresh is an award winning tobacco control programme. One of our roles is the de-normalisation of smoking and advocating policy interventions. Public awareness is fundamental, but advertising budgets are always under pressure and cannot be maintained all year round.
"Earned media" is highly cost-effective, reaching thousands and setting agendas among decision makers by presenting tobacco as an serious issue. Earned media can also complement and add depth, believability and impact to paid-for campaigns and the role of real people is an integral part.

Intervention or response:
Fresh runs an "always-on", year-round programme to gain media coverage around the benefits of quitting smoking and to argue for effective regulation. This involves supplying press releases for press, online, radio and TV and increasingly news websites. Through working with partners we have added the voices of doctors and real people sharing both positive experiences of quitting and negative experiences of smoking related diseases, and supporting calls for action. This has including working with a lung cancer patient in her final months.

Results and lessons learnt:

· Relationships need sensitivity and tact to develop, but people will willingly share their stories as a warning to others.
· Ex-smokers and doctors as spokespeople enables us to target news media more effectively
· The harm of disease can feel remote to smokers: real stories in the media can make these more believable.
· Ex-smokers are proud of quitting, and report that positive publicity can provide them with an added incentive to stay quit, and advise others
· Ex-smokers can also become champions for legislative change.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Real people's stories play an important role in communicating the consequences of smoking and there are many opportunities to share these beyond advertising campaigns. While the media is changing away from traditional print, new media brings new channels and new opportunities.

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