Half of Young People in Essex Say TV Adverts Put Them Off Smoking

A new report launched this week by Healthwatch Essex has found that young people are deterred from taking up smoking by the NHS Stop Smoking Adverts on TV.

The YEAH!3 report, which completes a trilogy of pieces of research which look at health and social care for young people in Essex, found the adverts had discouraged them from ever taking up smoking and others said that constant reminders of the dangers prevented them from starting. The visual impact of warnings on cigarette packets was also a common factor in discouraging young people from taking up the habit.

These mechanisms were not as successful with people who already smoked, with a number saying that the warnings on TV or cigarette packets could deter non-smokers from starting, but didn’t impact those already addicted.

Dr David Sollis, CEO of Healthwatch Essex, said: “It is very encouraging to hear that some of the adverts currently being used by the NHS are proving successful in deterring young people from smoking. That was a very clear message that came out of the report, which is really positive.

“It seems, for young people who already smoke, being warned of the long-term dangers is not always the strongest incentive to quit. In fact, we found that tailoring smoking-cessation information to include more immediate side effects and consequences may benefit this group more.

“It seems that early intervention is the key to preventing people from taking up smoking in the first place. We heard from young people who told us that negative messaging and what they perceived as ‘nagging’ actually made them resist quitting and, in some instances such messaging prevented them from accessing the support which might be needed to quit. This is helpful insight which we hope can inform and support initiatives which may be able to help young people who are already regular smokers.”

This particular report engaged 717 young people over a six-week period and the trilogy of reports completes three years of engagement with nearly 2000 young people across Essex. To read the report visit our library.