Smoking constitutes a serious public health problem and a leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. About one in five adults smoke, and on a daily basis and about 1,000 people under age 18 begin smoking in the U.S. Over 1,200 people die daily due to smoking with an estimated 443,000 premature deaths from smoking. An estimated 49,000 of smoking-related deaths in the U.S are associated with exposure to secondhand smoke. For every death from a smoking-related disease, about 20 more people suffer from at least one serious smoking-related illness. Annually, cigarette smoking costs the U. S. $96 billion in health care expenditures and $97 billion in lost productivity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2012).
The New York City’s Health Department’s nicotine patch and gum program is launched every year since 2006, together with educational campaigns. For a period of two weeks annually in March, New Yorkers apply through NYC.GOV for nicotine gum and patches at no cost or can call 311 for help to quit or register on NYC Quits on nyc.gov. This is an interactive website with information and tools to help smokers quit. The theme of the public education Ads is “Quitting Is Much Less Painful”. The ad campaign depicts pancreatic, esophageal and stomach cancer, describes their low survival rates and shows the extensive treatment necessary for each of these cancers. The Ads run on in local newspapers, television as well as on-line.
The Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC)’s national tobacco education campaign is called “Tips from Former Smokers”, and features real people that live with smoking-related diseases. This objective of the campaign is to encourage smokers to quit. The ads show people living with smoking-related conditions such as cancer, stroke, heart attack and Buerger’s disease, lung removal and limb amputations. For free support, smokers are asked to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-800-784-8669 and TTY 1-800-332-8615 or access www.smokefree.gov. This service provides advice and support from experienced counselors to smokers at no cost. It also provides self-help materials, a personalized quit plan, as well as current information about cessation medications. The campaign ads run nationally for 12 weeks within the month of March and include theater, magazine, newspaper, television, radio, social media, billboard and online placements.
Both of these programs are effective because they have an important public health issue, clearly defined advocacy goals as well as strategic objectives that are derived from their goals. They both rely on information, education and strong communication mechanisms as strategies to reach their target populations; information is designed to elicit positive responses and promote smoking cessation. The premises of both programs are also supported by scientific evidence regarding the impact of advertisement. Another factor in their effectiveness is that they also provide readily accessible tools and services to help smokers quit.
Plan for Health Advocacy Campaign for Adult Smoking Cessation
Population Health Issue
Jha et al.(2013) studied the hazards of Smoking and benefits of cessation in the United State; the researchers utilized data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey conducted between 1997 and 2004, to predict hazard ratios for current smokers as well as the life expectancy gains associated with smoking cessation. The findings were that smokers had a risk for death from any cause that was three times higher than that of non-smokers. Smokers lost one decade of life as against people who do not smoke and cessation before the age of 40 reduced the risk of smoking-related mortality by about 90% (Jha et al., 2013).
Proposed Policy Solution
Health institutions are strategic as places where the adult population can be reached; they come in contact with nurses on a daily basis. As a population health issue, smoking cessation management should be incorporated into the general nursing practice. All Nurses should be trained to provide education for smoking cessation targeting adult smokers.
Specific Policy Objectives
Under the new policy, all nurses will receive special training for adult smoking cessation.
Nurses will be trained to provide education on the health hazards of smoking, the
benefits of quitting, and tips to smoking cessation.
Nurses will be trained on effective communication and advocacy skills
Nurses will be provided with all current available information and knowledge of available resources and cessation programs so that they can refer smokers to cessation programs.
Method of Communication
Effective communication mechanisms will constitute a key strategy to convey information to stakeholders including individuals, communities, educational institutions, health organizations and non-profits as well as policy makers. In order to reach policy makers, a campaign website and an online tool will be developed, with a preformatted statement on the proposed policy that stakeholders can use to express their support. Electronic, print and online media will be used to create awareness about the new policy.
Support for Policy
This will be established through dissemination of research evidence on the benefits of smoking cessation and the effectiveness of education campaigns for smoking cessation. Participation in various stakeholder meetings will be undertaken in addition to direct opinion communication with policy makers. Evidence from on-going education campaigns against smoking will be used to shore support for the policy. Active networking will be done with organizations that work in the area of smoking cessation to share information, strategies and collaborate on pertinent aspects of the program.
Effective and Proven Strategies
This health advocacy campaign plan adopted the New York State Health Department and CDC’s clear goals and strong media engagement strategy. The use of online tools for targeted communication is also adopted from the two programs. The plan also adopted the strategy of assuring that potential quitters know where to get help as against just providing information about smoking hazards.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2012). CDC Launches Tobacco Education.
Retrieved August 2, 2014 from
- The City of New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (2012). Health Department
launches new public education campaign depicting Cancers caused by smoking; Ads
show how “Quitting Is Much Less Painful”. Retrieved August 2,
2014 from http://www.nyc.gov
- Jha et al. (2013) 21st-Century Hazards of Smoking and Benefits of Cessation in the
United States. The New England Journal of Medicine. Retrieved August 2,
2014 from www.nejm.org