Anti-smoking push targets youth and pregnant women

The Department of Health is to target pregnant women and teenagers as part its latest PR push to cut smoking.

The campaign, starting this month and running to March next year, is also set to boost the emphasis on the dangers of passive smoking.

This change in emphasis is the latest stage in the Tobacco Information Campaign, which launched in December 1999 and forms a key part of the Government's strategy to cut smoking-related deaths.

The DoH last week hired Fishburn Hedges, after a competitive pitch against two of its other eight rostered agencies, to handle the remit.

FH joint MD Ron Finlay said his team would target women's glossy magazines and women's pages in the national press to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking when pregnant. Male partners would also be targeted.

The agency aims to work with professional football clubs to reach 11 to 15-year-old boys. PR work to target girls will focus on the affect smoking can have on health and beauty.

'This campaign must not be seen to come from government,' he added. 'We must use the media and vernacular that they (children) use.'

Around 27 per cent of the adult population in England smokes, a figure far less than in 1974, when almost half the population smoked. Government statistics show 72 per cent of smokers would like to quit.

The main aspect of the Government's anti-smoking campaign so far has been TV ads, first broadcast in spring 2001, showing Stephen Bensley, an ex-heavy smoker with smoking-related lung cancer.

The DoH hired Media Reach Advertising early last year to handle an anti-smoking campaign targeting Britain's Asian community (PRWeek, 2 March 2001).

Ketchum formerly handled PR for the anti-smoking initiatives but it failed to make the DoH's roster, which was set up in July (PRWeek, 19 July).

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