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Smoking Cessation: How to get 20 to 25 year old Canadians to consider quitting.

This report examines the smoking habits of Canadians aged 20-25 from a sociological perspective to identify the underlying beliefs, values, and meanings that guide both smoking behaviour and the triggers to quit.

Developed by Sonic Boom, this report aims to answer the question:
“What do marketers need to do to get 20-25 year old Canadians to consider quitting?”


Primary Research: Digital Ethnography of thousands of online data points created by target audiences engaging around a range of topics pertaining to or related to the act of smoking.

Secondary Research: Existing body of published sociological research examined and referenced.

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Smoking Cessation: How to get 20 to 25 year old Canadians to consider quitting.

  2. 2. SMOKING CESSATION This report examines the smoking habits of Canadians aged 20-25 from a sociological perspective to identify the underlying beliefs, values, and meanings that guide both smoking behaviour and the triggers to quit. Developed by Sonic Boom, this report aims to answer the question: “What do marketers need to do to get 20-25 year old Canadians to consider quitting?” COPYRIGHT SONIC BOOM, 2013. STRATEGY@SONICBOOM.COM
  3. 3. METHODOLOGY Sonic Boom used a combination of primary and secondary research in the development of this report. The goal in conducting and publishing this research was to understand the role smoking occupies in people’s lives by looking at the world from their perspective. Our research process involved: Primary Research: Proprietary Digital Ethnographic research methodology was used to analyze thousands of online conversations and the identities of people having them, in the context of smoking and associated activities such as going out to a bar with friends or taking a lunch break. Secondary Research: An analysis of published research across numerous industry and academic journals in the past decade in Canada. 2
  4. 4. INTRODUCTION Our research identified three dominant belief systems guiding smoking behaviour in the target age group. Each of these belief systems was organized into archetypes (or personas) that drew a connection between the beliefs and values of the audience and their motivations to smoke. The construction of archetypes also took variables such as education, location, socio-economic background, and various manifestations of “peer pressure” into consideration. The following pages will take you through each of these archetypes, explaining at a high level what smoking means to people that fall within these groups, and what we would need to do as marketers to engage smokers and get them to consider quitting. 3
  5. 5. ARCHETYPES: Based on our analysis, the following archetypes have been organized based on their relationship to the act of smoking. WHY THEY SMOKE • Activists: Smoking is identity driven, for the purpose of rebellion. • Socialites: Smoking is socially driven, for the purpose of building relationships with peer groups. • New Blue Collars: Smoking is stress driven, for the purpose of taking a break from routine tasks and activities. Activists Activists construct their self-image of rebellion through art and politics-based content, and are innately urban. They create and consume the city. They are intellectually sharp, informed, and quick to sniff out what’s cool and what’s not in culture. They are trendsetters and are therefore marketed to heavily by cigarette manufacturers. 4
  6. 6. Activists’ identities centre around alternative culture and creative originality. They scoff at "good", "earnest", "civic-mindedness" and laugh in the face of state-directed notions of health and wellbeing. They live life on their own terms. Activists are likely to have struggled (or know someone who has) with some form of depression or low self-esteem, and so project a cynical attitude towards the world. To Activists, smoking symbolizes creativity (art, poetry, music) and cynicism. It works as a way to reject the control that is seemingly exerted by the government, by society’s social norms, and other cultural entities. Socialites Socialites are predominantly in post-secondary education environments (college and/or university), and smoking amongst them occurs for social conformity. As a result, many Socialites do not even identify themselves as ‘smokers’. Socialites are looking to ‘fit-in’ with their peer groups and want to look good while doing so. They are typically looking for relationships at this stage in their lives and consider social-smoking as an attractive quality in a mate. New Blue Collars New Blue Collars (NBCs) come from lower working classes and do not have university level education (but may have attended a technical college). NBCs are embedded in networks of smokers at the family (had parents who smoked), friend, and co-worker level. They have a low sense of personal control over their lives and futures, and are riddled with stress - related to money and the fact that they are already out in the "real world" having to deal with the daily grind of work-life. Smoking helps relieve some of that pressure. Apart from dealing with stress, men in particular, also use smoking to reduce negative emotions such as anger and depression. NBCs live for their weekends. They love to party, drink and smoke, and work through their weeks with the weekend’s reward in mind. To the New Blue Collars, smoking provides a break from the daily grind, and a way to exert control of one’s seemingly routine life. Above all else, Socialites seek confidence: They are young, still “finding themselves”, and enjoying a new-found sense of freedom, having recently moved out of their parents’ home. So to them, smoking is a way to show others that one is self-assured, in control, and slightly edgy. 5
  7. 7. EFFECT OF HEALTH MESSAGES Generally, this age group feels invincible. They believe they’re not addicted and can easily quit when they decide to. They are aware that negative health affects can be prevented if they quit before the age of 30, and therefore feel they have plenty of time in hand. Activists Activists are undeterred by the physical risk of death associated with smoking. In fact, research suggests anti-smoking tactics that focus on the health consequences of smoking are especially ineffective, as the ‘forbidden fruit’ quality can stimulate smokers to identify more strongly with the act. Socialites Socialites worry a lot. They worry about their future, and about how their smoking affects people around them, particularly in social situations that aren’t conducive to smoking. The right kind of health messages may trigger this group to quit, but will need to empower them to take action themselves - as this 6
  8. 8. group is already lacking in confidence and selfesteem. Socialites are particularly affected by messages that pertain to health consequences in the now. New Blue Collars (NBCs) Like the Socialites, NBCs are also most affected by conversations pertaining to current health problems, rather than something they may have to deal with in the future. Interestingly, unlike the other archetypes, NBCs do not currently see themselves as being healthy. Health doesn’t become a concern for them until later in their lives. 7
  9. 9. HOW TO GET THEM TO QUIT Activists Activists are less likely to quit out of future concern and worry (like the socialites) unless it becomes an issue for them NOW. They do not expect to see themselves smoking a year from now and typically quit when undergoing transitions in life, such as getting married, having a child, or even entering into a relationship with someone who doesn’t smoke. Getting Activists to quit requires a focus on breaking the meanings they currently associate with the act of smoking. That is, breaking the illusion that smoking allows them to express their creativity, reject norms in society, or even express a sense of cynicism for the world they live in. It requires one to draw attention to the fact that smoking is an activity that allows cigarette manufacturers to control Activists and their behaviour. Smoking, in fact, takes away an Activist’s freedom. 8
  10. 10. Socialites Like the Activists, Socialites do not see themselves smoking in a year from now, and often quit when going through life-transitions such as having children or getting married. Getting Socialites to quit requires a focus on breaking the illusion that smoking makes them friends, and gives them a self-assured, freespirited persona. For this archetype, it is particularly important to focus on the positive social outcomes that can result from activities that don’t involve smoking. New Blue Collars Unlike the other two archetypes, NBCs see themselves smoking in a year from now. And that is because they are surrounded by smokers across their lives and communities. Getting NBCs to quit requires breaking the illusions of stress relief and relaxation (associated with smoking). Most importantly, it requires a focus on positive life outcomes that can result from not smoking. For example, having more money to enjoy the weekends, or having the confidence to try new things or learn new skills that can break the routine and help achieve better social and economic status. The Ultimate Illusion Audiences in this age category are very aware of the long term effects of smoking, but that doesn’t deter them from smoking today. This audience operates under the impression that they can quit when they feel like it. That is the ultimate illusion. Messages to this age category must address this reality. 9
  11. 11. CONCLUSION Reaching Canadian smokers between the ages of 20-25 requires a specific approach. One that focuses on addressing the meanings they associate with the act of smoking, rather than on its ill effects. Gaining audience attention requires content and programs that are culturally relevant to each archetype. It also requires soft-sell tactics in order to limit the barrier to engagement. Getting smokers to consider a behavioural change requires a focus on breaking the various illusions each archetype associates with smoking, and ultimately creating new cultural meanings in the marketplace through interesting content, programs, and campaigns. For more information on how our insights can be applied to reach audiences with strategic programs and content, contact us at strategy@sonicboom.com. 10
  12. 12. REFERENCES Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). 2003. Active Living and the Working Population: Profile of the health and health-related behaviour of the Canadian Working Population. http://www.cchalw.ca/english/info/InfoBrief%20EngWeb.pdf Czoli, Christine and David Hammond 2013.Cigarette Packaging: Youth Perceptions of “Natural” Cigarettes, Filter References, and Contraband Tobacco. In Journal of Adolescent Health. 1:7. Hammond, David. 2005. Smoking behaviour among young adults: beyond youth prevention. In Tobacco Control; 14;181-185 http://davidhammond.ca/Old%20Website/Publication%20new/Young %20Adult%20Smoking%20(Hammond-Tob%20Control%202005).pdf Hendlin, Y; Stacey J Anderson; Stanton A Glantz, 2009. ‘Acceptable rebellion’: marketing hipster aesthetics to sell Camel cigarettes in the US. From: In Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA. Freedman KS, Nelson NM, Feldman LL. Smoking initiation among young adults in the United States and Canada, 1998-2010: a systematic review. In Prev Chronic Dis 2012;9:110037. McCallum, J. 2013. What Signs Do Anti-smoking Advertisements Contain And How Do People Respond To Them? Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario. McDermott, L, A. J. Dobson and N. Owen. From partying to parenthood: young women’s perceptions of cigarette smoking across life transitions In Health Education Research. Vol.21 no.3 2006: 428–439 xi
  13. 13. McDermott L, Dobson A, Russell A. 2004. Changes in smoking behaviour among young women over life stage transitions. In Aust N Z J Public Health 2004; 28:330-5 Propel Centre for Population Health Impact 2013. University of Waterloo. Tobacco Use in Canada: Patterns and Trends 2013 Edition. Reid, Hamond, Driezen, 2010. Socio-economic status and smoking in Canada, 1999-2006: has there been any progress on disparities in tobacco use? In Can J Public Health. 2010 Jan-Feb;101(1):73-8. The Campaign to Control Cancer. 2013: Time to End the Big Smoke on Canadian Campuses. http://www.controlcancer.ca/time-to-end-big-smokeon-canadian-campuses/ The Report from the Tobacco Strategy Advisory Group to the Minister of Health Promotion and Sport. October 18, 2010. Tjepkema, M, R. Wilkins, A. Long, 2013. Causespecific mortality by occupational skill level in Canada: a 16-year follow-up study. In Chronic Diseases and Injuries in Canada, Volume 33 · Number 4 · September 2013. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cdic-mcbc/334/assets/pdf/CDIC_MCC_Vol33_4-eng.pdf xii
  14. 14. IMAGES USED UNDER CREATIVECOMMONS LICENSING In order of appearance: Cover: Valentin.Ottone http://www.flickr.com/photos/saneboy/3595175373/ Page 2: Bhumika.B http://www.flickr.com/photos/bhumikabhatia/6199726283/ Page 3: Jonathan Kos-Read http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathankosread/6921210104/ Page 6: Helga Weber http://www.flickr.com/photos/helga/3235419647/ Page 8: Kris Krug http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/62915790/ Page 10: Ed Yourdon http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/2905906295/ xiii