Evidence-based Behaviour Change


Ontario Ministry of Health: Social smoking

How can we encourage “non-smokers” to quit smoking?

Collaborative Change have been working in close partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Health (MoH) and BBDO to design behaviour change communications for a particularly hard to reach group, young social smokers.

As well as providing invaluable audience insights that were used to guide communications, the co-creation phase of the Collaborative Change process revealed a key challenge for the project, “how can we encourage people who don’t identify themselves as smokers, to quit smoking?

Collaborative Change worked closely with audience members, the MoH team and BBDO to translate this key challenge into an opportunity to break new ground—by changing the behaviours of an often overlooked group of smokers. The ‘Quit The Denial’ campaign, centred around a series of viral videos and a strong social media presence, aims to communicate one clear message—social smoking is still smoking.

The campaign, which compares ‘social’ smoking behaviours to a range of unflattering and ridiculous activities (farting, earwax picking, etc.), aims to reframe smoking behaviours in the minds of the audience and wider community—transforming social smoking from an acceptable and innocuous activity, into a social faux-pas.

Hailed by CNN as what might be “the best public service announcement ever…”, our work with the MoH and BBDO is a clear example of how powerful audience insights, co-creation principles and partnership working can transform a seemingly insurmountable challenge—encouraging “non-smokers” to quit—into an opportunity to effect real change amongst hard-to-reach audiences.



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