Young men are the target of a new Quit campaign, which urges smokers to ditch cigarettes now rather put off quitting until they are older and starting to feel the damage to their health.
The campaign is centred on a television advertisement which shows a young man who uses typical excuses to delay quitting – figuring he will quit smoking once footy training starts, or before he wakes up coughing or becomes a father.
Time catches up with the young man, who finds himself still smoking in his early 40s, struggling to keep up with his young children and wishing he’d quit years earlier. The message is: “You know you’ll quit one day, so get tough with yourself – do it now”.
Quit Victoria Director Dr Sarah White said targeting male smokers aged 18-34 was a new approach, since Quit’s campaigns usually aimed to reach male and female smokers across a broad age group.
“Research with young male smokers showed they think differently about their smoking, compared to other demographics,” Dr White said.
“Young men told us they saw quitting as a strong and masculine choice, and something a good father or father figure would do.
“The campaign carries an aspirational message designed to enhance men’s self-belief and encourage them to quit now rather than put it off until later when the damage will be done.”
The new campaign comes as new Cancer Council Victoria data released today shows that more men in the state were daily smokers (13.9%) than women (10.1%) in 2015.
For Victorian smokers aged 18 to 29 years:
- In 2015, 16.1% of young men were daily smokers, compared to 11.5% of young women.
- This is down from 2004-05, when 26.9% of young men were daily smokers, compared to 23.2% of young women.
Overall in 2015, 11.9% of Victorians were daily smokers. This represents a substantial decline over the past decade, from 17.3% of Victorian adults who were daily smokers in 2004-05.
The findings are from the Victorian Smoking and Health Survey – an annual telephone survey of about 4000 Victorians which is designed to provide a representative sample of the state’s population.
Cancer Council Victoria chief executive Todd Harper welcomed the decline in smoking rates, which reflected the fact that more smokers are quitting and fewer young people are taking up smoking.
“The trend is definitely going in the right direction across the population, but we need to make sure that young men understand the risks they take by continuing to smoke. Smoking kills two out of three long-term users,” Mr Harper said.
“There is no room for complacency in our efforts to tackle the scourge of death and disease caused by smoking.”
Health promotion foundation VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said while declining smoking rates were encouraging, smoking remained one of the largest causes of preventable death in Australia.
“It is vital we continue to reduce smoking rates by targeting our efforts at the people who are most likely to smoke,” Ms Rechter said.
“We know that a higher percentage of young men smoke than women. This campaign will encourage young men and their families to really think about the danger of smoking and the importance of quitting now.”
The new young men’s campaign is due to air from Sunday April 16, and will be supported by digital and outdoor advertising.
Quit Victoria is a partnership between VicHealth, Cancer Council Victoria, the State Government of Victoria and the Heart Foundation.