Denormalizing tobacco: An innovative approach to accelerate tobacco control
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Alliance Contre le Tabac, Paris, France
Publication date: 2022-07-05
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2022;8(Supplement):A55
Each year, 8 million people worldwide die from smoking. And this industrial pandemic is caused by an industry whose products kill half of its consumers. If smoking prevention actions aimed towards smokers remain essential to ensure the emergence of the first tobacco-free generations by the next decades, it is necessary to renew these actions with additional measures led by the civil society. The notion of ‘denormalization’ of tobacco, first developed on the other side of the Atlantic in the early 2000s, offers a new way to develop tobacco prevention campaigns by shedding light on the sources of this major public health pandemic: the tobacco industry itself and the unknown consequences of its activities, especially on the human rights and the protection of the environment. Deploying a combination of communication tools traditionally used by the tobacco industry (public relations, influence marketing and advocacy actions) and through the renewal of the storytelling around tobacco consumption and its industry, tobacco control organizations can change the social perception of tobacco products and the industry, in society. Organizations like ASH or Partn’air are leading at a European and international level innovative actions contributing to this objective of denormalization. France has some of the highest rates of youth smoking in Europe. In 2019, 36% of those aged 15–24 years were reported as daily and occasional smokers, which was the second highest in Europe. To combat this, urgent changes are needed concerning the country’s prevention approach, which is the main objective of Alliance Contre le Tabac (ACT). This French NGO, a coalition of major associations for tobacco control in France financed by the French fund against addictions, has been implementing since 2020 the first denormalization program in France. ACT’s campaigns seek to change the French prevention paradigm by moving away from a purely health-based approach to an overall societal one, engaging young audiences who are usually less receptive to preventive messages based on health warnings. The ACT will present the results of its two first mass media campaigns that have been released so far with success: ‘Free Women’ in 2021 and ‘Change their future’ in 2022. The ACT and its partners, besides public health institutions, are committed to the tobacco End Game and the emergence of the first tobacco-free generations in France.