Effectiveness of Anti Smoking Campaigns in India
Subject: Research Methodology/Business Research
Topic: Effectiveness of Anti Smoking Campaigns in India
“An insight into how anti smoking campaigns can be made more effective among urban youth.”
Today a big percentage of any countries population smokes and an even greater percentage of the population passive smokes, Smoking alone causes many deaths in every country and is responsible for countless amounts of diseases. Despite its many ill effects that we will mention ahead, smokers seem to continue. Since governments, societies/communities, institutions are realizing the ill effects of smoking there have been a great many attempts to try and get smokers to quit, but regardless of their efforts smokers continue.
The above chart shows the difficulty and challenge for any smoker to quit smoking. The data makes it evident that addiction to smoking is a real problem since 90 % of the smokers are unsuccessful in quitting. Even pharmacological treatment could only at its best be 40 % effective.
Why are people so addicted to smoking?
According to the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK the Nicotine in a cigarette alters the smoker’s brain chemistry, it changes the levels of these chemicals and their mood and concentration levels change. Many smokers find this enjoyable.
The changes happen very quickly. When smokers inhale the nicotine, it immediately rushes to their brain where it takes effect. This is why many smokers enjoy the nicotine rush and become dependent on it.
The more they smoke, the more their brain becomes used to the nicotine. This means that they have to smoke more to get the same effect. When they stop smoking, the loss of nicotine changes the levels of dopamine and noradrenaline. This makes smokers feel anxious, depressed and irritable.
Thus smokers crave nicotine when they quit, as smoking provides an immediate fix to these problems. Thus it becomes difficult for smokers to quit.
As is evident that smokers find it extremely challenging to quit smoking there has been in comparison not much done in monetary terms to offset this great challenge. State Tobacco revenues collected are 50 times the spending done by the state to prevent smoking. In proportionate terms not much is done to prevent smoking or reduce the amount smokers smoke.
There is a clear gap we see as the amount of effort required to get smokers to quit seems to be tremendous as shown in the previous studies and the efforts made by the government or communities don’t seem to equate that.
Modes currently used to stop smoking
- Anti Smoking Adverts
- Rehab Centres
- Anti Smoking Conventions
- Nicotine Gum/Patch
The purpose of our research is to see why anti smoking campaigns have been ineffective in having an impact on the mind-set of the young, urban crowd. On the basis of the research conducted on Anti smoking Campaigns, we have suggested a few recommendations to be incorporated in the campaigns for the age group 16-25 years.
Why stop the smoking ?
According to a popular website, “Worldwide, between 80,000 and 100,000 kids start smoking every day. Approximately one quarter of children alive in the Western Pacific Region will die from smoking.”
According to the WHO:
- Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
- Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of whom more than 5 million are users and ex users and more than 600 000 are nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030.
- Unchecked, tobacco-related deaths will increase to more than eight million per year by 2030. More than 80% of those deaths will be in low- and middle-income countries.
- Second-hand smoke causes more than 600 000 premature deaths per year
It is evident that smoking has many ill effects and is not beneficial for the society/community as a whole. It is one of the major causes for cancer and affects not only the smoker but also those around them.
Who is most influenced by smoking?
As the chart shows a great percentage of the US population are those who smoke between the age of 18 – 25 and an even more shocking statistic is that a great percentage of smokers have tried their first cigarette under the age of 18.
As is established before that smoking harms the community, the smoker and the passive smoker we thus arrive at our mission-
“To effectively reduce the rate of smokers in a population sect through the medium of an anti smoking ad campaign thus understanding what kind of an advert would be most effective”
Research design –
Our research falls into both, exploratory and descriptive research because of the following reasons-
- We chose to do exploratory type of research because we wanted to know more about the situation and the problem. “Why”- Why have anti smoking campaigns been ineffective in having an impact?
- It falls under descriptive research because we have used a structured questionnaire to find out the views of the consumer’s attitudes, intentions and behaviors.
- We also did applied research because we wanted a conclusion which can be used to solve our problem. Applied research is a type of research which solves a problem.
Data Collection source and method –
Our research being a quantitative research, methods which we used to collect the data are surveys which were conducted through webpage surveys and printed questionnaire. Information collected was how many cigarettes a person smokes in a day; did any of the campaigns affect his/her smoking habits? , Why does he/she actually smoke?, etc.
The data we have collected will let us know if people do get affected by the advertising campaigns or not, and if they do what are the things which they get affected by so we can have an campaign with all those things which can have a huge effect so that people stop smoking.
Research tools –
The type of study was conducted through a research survey to find out whether anti smoking campaigns are fruitful or not.
- Our survey only covers urban Indians in a limited part of Mumbai. The area which we cover is very small and restricted to very few people.
- Survey is limited to urban highly educated youth. This may not be typical of the broader Indian population.
- Some people haven’t filled the form completely; also they have not given all the information which was needed.
- Data can be biased because people know that we are taking their interview. People tend to hide the correct information.
- We need to do more work to understand the reasons why youth start smoking ( there is a high instance of ‘ others’ as reasons given to start.)
A sample is a part of a target population, which is carefully selected to represent the population.
The technique used for the research –
Snowball sampling is a sub-part of non-probability sampling.
In this method, the initial group of respondents are selected randomly. Subsequent respondents are being selected based on the opinion or the referrals provided by the initial respondents. The referrals will have demographic and psychographic characteristics that are similar to the person referring them.
Why this technique?
- Our sampling element was smokers and there is no ready sample frame available to get the desired element/data from. This automatically rules out selection of probability sampling. As we know that knowledge of the whole population is a must for probability sampling (in this there is equal chance for every element to be selected in the sample), and no such data is available.
- The only way to get hold of the desired sampling element was to catch hold of a random group and then went on asking others based on the former’s referrals. This went on till we reached our sampling size (i.e. 100).
- People don’t readily accept habits like smoking easily to strangers and there is no available sampling frame of smokers. The only way we could get such a sample collected was by first approaching a group of random known people who smoke and then going on their referrals.
- The method explained above is nothing but snowball sampling (a type of non-probability sampling).
- How many people smoke (Yes) or used to smoke (No)?
- For how long have people been smoking?
- How many cigarettes does a person smoke per day?
- What factors influenced a person to start smoking?
- A person usually smokes with-
- Awareness about smoking being injurious to health
- % age of people who have tried quitting
- %age of people who think about the ill- effects of smoking sometimes
- % age of people rating this statement “It is okay if I smoke, because I only smoke few cigarettes a day.”
- Rating of “I could give up smoking if I wanted to.”
- The number of cigarettes smoked will-
- Factors which could lead to giving up of smoking-
- Awareness of anti smoking campaigns-
- Effect of these campaigns on people-
- % age of people according to whom campaigns may or may not work if aired consistently-
- What should be shown in campaigns-
- Likeliness of a person to go back to smoking-
The researcher asks the following types of questions-
- Factors which could have had an effect in the respondents starting to smoke. It is important to know the answers to this as this will give a fuller understanding of the problem. This will enable us to attach the issue at the root if we are able to target the campaign at the reasons behind the reasons as to shy the young people started smoking.
- Questions focusing in the self-awareness of the problem among respondents and their intentions regarding actions on it. These are covered by question 6 (Refer questionnaire1, i.e., awareness that smoking is injurious), if that has resulted in them trying to quit ( Q.7 and Q.8), do they think about it occasionally ( Q.9), and their attitudes towards the habit ( Q10 and Q.11). Having answers to these questions will show us the respondents’ attitudes which can help us tailor the message accordingly for it to be effective.
- The next series of questions is on the actions that the respondents intend to take regarding their habit in the near and medium term and the likely reasons which could induce them to reduce or give up smoking. Answers to these questions will tell us about their motivations, and probably help us to craft a marketing message to those who are contemplating of cutting down or stopping smoking so that their resolve is reinforced.
- Questions about the knowledge among respondents of the anti smoking campaigns messages, their opinions of these messages and if they are not affected how could these be made more effective. Information about their will help us in targeting and covering the message better.
- Finally, there are questions asked to the smokers who have quit about what made them quit. The answers to these are qualitative and will help us with an understanding of their motivations.
- The influence of friends is very strong in the decision of the respondents to start smoking. 60% of the respondents cite this as a factor. This is not surprising and may call for sessions in schools/colleges with a wider group since group influence is clearly important. However, one key insight is that influence of parents, etc., is not important, neither is the factor that it is cool to smoke (only 12% think so). There is a very high number of people ticking the option ‘others’, which means that there is a need to study to this factor more to get a fuller understanding of why people choose to start smoking.
- In the responses to this group of questions, we get a very high degree of awareness of the issue. 95% of the people know that smoking is not good for health, and a very substantial number (61%) have tried to quit smoking in the past. On the entire population (of 100 respondents), 46% have tried to quit but failed while 29% have not tried to quit at all. The rest 25% have actually managed to quit smoking which is a fairly impressive number. The reasons for failing to stick with the ‘quitting’ decisions range from ‘pressure from friends’, and nervousness and stress etc. when smoking was given up.
- However, a group of the sample seems to be in denial regarding the issue. 46% of the people who currently smoke think that ‘It is okay because I only smoke a few cigarettes a day’. However, this set includes some who smoke between 3-5 cigarettes a day. Further, a very high number (75%) of smokers believe that it is easy to quit smoking. Probably a campaign which attacked this complacence would be effective in leading that group to introspect as it may not be as easy to quit as they believe.
- However, coming to actions that the respondents intend to take regarding their habit, the response is quite positive (Q 12, 13). Nearly 54% of the smokers expect to cut down on their smoking in the next 1-2 years, while only 9% expect it to increase. The main reasons cited are that ‘it might affect my health’, with ‘I would not like my family members to inhale my second hand smoke’ as number two (41% of respondents). (People could tick more than one option). This tells that a positive campaign with the health benefits of not smoking may be beneficial. The main takeaway is that the respondents are already planning to cut down, and we should help them keep their resolve.
- Coming to the message on anti smoking campaigns, a very high number (91%) of respondents are aware of these (Q 14) though for a high proportion (63%) these messages have not had any impact (Q 15). However, in balance 37% of cases they have had some impact (including, in 8% of cases, a lot). The reasons given for their ineffectiveness are usually that ‘they are exaggerations’, ‘they are boring’ and very often ‘I do not notice them’. Our job is to make these messages noticed. One way is of doing this is to consistently air campaigns as 61% tend to think that they will be more effective that way (Q 17).
In terms of what could make smokers cut down smoking (Q18), there is a revealing insight that these could be successful if they showed real life examples of people who have given up smoking and are now happy. This approach has not been tried in India, and is supported by 32% of the people. An almost equal number believe that ‘Campaigns should use logic, rather than being preachy’ (25%), and that fear works best with ‘pictures of diseased lungs etc.’ being effective (23%). We can say that there is no single message to convey and that a carrot (positive effects of quitting) and stick (fear factor) approach would work.
- Nearly one-fourth of the respondents have been able to give up smoking, mainly concerned about the effects on their health.
- Of those who continue to smoke, nearly 60% have tried to quit (unsuccessfully).
- Most respondents think that they can quit when they want, an assertion not corroborated by the number who have unsuccessfully tried to quit.
- However, most respondents do indeed intend to reduce their smoking and very few expect it to increase.
- The reasons given for intention to cut down is likely effect on own health and that of the family.
- One way to motivate respondents to cut down would be to show instances of real people who have stopped smoking and its positive impact. However appeals to logic and the fear angle are also important.