Increasing the Public’s Awareness of Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Smoking Cessation Treatments through Advertising
Ireland is globally prominent in tobacco control, becoming the first country to ban smoking in the workplace, and has the highest tax rate on cigarettes in the European Union.
The MPOWER Model
Focusing on the third strategy of the MPOWER model (Offer help to quit), I recommend drawing attention to therapies proven to aid in smoking cessation in our anti-tobacco media campaigns. Advertisements often convey the harms of tobacco, appealing to emotions of shock, fear, and guilt, or use an energizing approach (“there are now more quitters than smokers”) emboldening the viewer to try to quit.
Television and Online Campaigns
Television ads recommend viewers visit QUIT.ie, and on the website, there is written information about treatments that can improve success rates in smoking cessation, including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), varenicline, and bupropion. However, these products are rarely if ever mentioned in the ads themselves.
Statistics and Effectiveness
In 2017, the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) of smoking cessation interventions reported that half of smokers attempted to quit in the previous year, but only 7.8% of attempts succeeded by 12 months. Methods used were unaided (50%), e-cigarettes (29%), NRT (12%), and varenicline or bupropion (4%). The same report identified that varenicline was 2.5 times more effective than control, and varenicline and NRT combined was 3.5 times more effective. Large global clinical trials have demonstrated similar significant benefits from these therapies.
The Need for Better Communication
Clearly, there is a strong desire among Irish smokers to quit. Our current media strategy encourages quit attempts but is not communicating to smokers the potential treatment options. Viewers may perceive that willpower is the only method and could be disheartened from previous failed attempts. Only when they make the high-agency decision to visit QUIT.ie or talk to their GP might they discover these therapeutic adjuncts. We need to make their availability and efficacy more widely known through advertising campaigns.
- Tax Foundation – Cigarette Taxes in Europe
- Howell F. Ireland’s workplaces, going smoke-free. BMJ. Apr 10 2004;328(7444):847-8. doi:10.1136/bmj.328.7444.847
- WHO – MPOWER
- YouTube – I wish I was an actor
- YouTube – Anti-Smoking Sugar Sugar
- YouTube – HSE Quit I Will Survive
- QUIT.ie – Get help when you quit smoking
- HIQA – Health technology assessment (HTA) of smoking cessation interventions
- Ebbert JO, Wyatt KD, Hays JT, Klee EW, Hurt RD. Varenicline for smoking cessation: efficacy, safety, and treatment recommendations. Patient Prefer Adherence. Oct 05 2010;4:355-62. doi:10.2147/ppa.s10620
- Hartmann-Boyce J, Chepkin SC, Ye W, Bullen C, Lancaster T. Nicotine replacement therapy versus control for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 05 31 2018;5:CD000146. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000146.pub5
- Athanasakis K, Igoumenidis M, Karampli E, Vitsou E, Sykara G, Kyriopoulos J. Cost-effectiveness of varenicline versus bupropion, nicotine-replacement therapy, and unaided cessation in Greece. Clin Ther. Aug 2012;34(8):1803-14. doi:10.1016/j.clinthera.2012.07.002