Data from a new evaluation of a Colorado secondhand tobacco smoke campaign reveal people do understand that secondhand tobacco smoke is dangerous for everyone, especially children. However, only one-third of the smokers questioned have a policy against smoking in their homes.
“Nearly 73 percent of survey respondents questioned about the ‘I Am A Smoke-Free Zone’ campaign said that everyone is prohibited from smoking anywhere in their home,” said Stacy Weinberg, Tri-County Health Department Director of Epidemiology, Planning and Communication. “However, when we looked at this finding based on the smoking status of the respondent, we found that 82 percent of non-smokers prohibit smoking anywhere in the home but only 36 percent of smokers have that policy in their homes.
“This finding, along with others, drive home the point that Coloradans, regardless of their smoking status, do understand that secondhand smoke is dangerous, especially for children. However, many more non-smokers than smokers have taken the action step of actually banning smoking in their homes.”
The evaluation also found the “I Am A Smoke-Free Zone” campaign, just beginning its third wave of advertisements, reached its intended audience of parents of young children and people who smoke. A telephone survey conducted at the end of the first media flight measured the impact of the campaign. The survey found:
· Seventy-three percent of parents reported either hearing or seeing the campaign’s ads
· Four out of five smokers surveyed (80 percent) recalled the campaign
· Of the smokers who recalled the ads, 95 percent said the ads were memorable compared to 85 percent of non-smokers who saw the ads.
“We got a lot of feedback that kids embraced the ‘I am A Smoke-Free Zone’ message,” added Weinberg. “While our campaign focused on reaching adults, we were thrilled that children were also hearing our message and telling their parents and others to honor their desire to be smoke-free zones.”
The campaign focuses on four common myths about secondhand smoke:
(1) That blowing your smoke out a window or door prevents second hand smoke exposure,
(2) That ventilation in a home or car is a good strategy,
(3) That room deodorizers can minimize risk, and
(4) That quitting is the only way to protect kids from secondhand smoke.
“While many people who smoke recognize the dangers of secondhand smoke, and sincerely want to protect their children from being exposed, the steps they take, such as blowing smoke out car windows or spraying room deodorizers, are not effective in protecting them,” explains Weinberg. “We created this campaign to help correct those misperceptions.”
The evaluation of the secondhand smoke campaign was a collaborative effort between Denver Public Health and Tri-County Health Department. The campaign itself was coordinated by Denver Public Health with support from other county public health agencies including: Jefferson, Tri-County (Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas), Larimer, Logan, Sedgwick, Morgan, Yuma, Kit Carson and Lincoln. The Evolution Agency, a communications firm, and WestGroup Research, were contracted to support the campaign.
This campaign is one of several smoking-related public health campaigns now active in Colorado and funded by Amendment 35, approved by Colorado voters in 2004. It is utilizing English and Spanish television, radio, Internet, special events, outdoor (billboards and other signage), convenience store and restroom-based marketing to alert everyone about the need to protect children from the harmful toxins and chemicals in secondhand smoke and to correct the misperceptions of how to protect them.
“With all the focus on the health impacts associated with the legalization of marijuana, it’s easy to overlook the disastrous health impacts of smoking tobacco – both to the smoker and to those exposed to the secondhand smoke,” said William Burman, MD, director of Denver Public Health. “Tobacco use is still the number one cause of preventable death. We need to continue our efforts to reinforce this message and, more importantly, to motivate people to make changes to protect themselves and those around them.”
For more information on how to protect children from secondhand smoke go to iamasmokefreezone.org.
Denver Health is the Rocky Mountain Region’s Level I academic trauma center, and the safety net hospital for the Denver area. The Denver Health system, which integrates acute and emergency care with public and community health, includes the Rocky Mountain Regional Trauma Center, Denver’s 911 emergency medical response system, Denver Health Paramedic Division, eight family health centers, 14 school-based health centers, the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, NurseLine, Denver CARES, Denver Public Health, the Denver Health Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Center for Medical Response to Terrorism, Mass Casualties and Epidemics