Campaigns to keep youngsters from smoking require a continuous evaluation and adjustment of both strategy and concept: Results of the 2016–2020 campaigns in Flanders, Belgium
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Kom op tegen kanker, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium
Publication date: 2020-10-22
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(Supplement):A38
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A Flemish health survey revealed that most of the youngsters start smoking at the age of 15, with youngsters in vocational education being more vulnerable. Peer relationships play a crucial role.

To create campaigns to keep youngsters between 12 and 15 years from smoking, focusing on the most vulnerable ones.

1) Qualitative research of the target group and their media consumption; 2) development of creative concepts and a corresponding media plan; 3) qualitative evaluation of the developed concept by the target group; 4) launching of the campaign followed by continuous quantitative assessment and adjustment.

Between 2016–2018, YouTubers made vlogs about toxic substances in cigarettes ‘Vloggers versus Cigarettes’. Evaluation of the campaign revealed that 62% of the target group recognized the campaign and that the message (‘smoking is unhealthy and dirty, so don't start’) was evident. The campaign resulted in young people talking about smoking and reached youngsters in vocational education. But still, 10% considered giving smoking a try. Based on this evaluation, the concept and strategy were adjusted, aiming to encourage youngsters not to start smoking. In 2019 a fiction series named @InstaLove was launched on Instagram. InstaLove was the first-ever Instagram soap and showed four friends challenging each other in a dating game and this during six weeks. Evaluation of the first wave revealed that 93% of non-smokers indicate that @InstaLove encourages youngsters not to smoke. Based on the evaluation, the series will be adjusted and relaunched in 2020.

We were able to set up successful campaigns to keep youngsters from smoking, but continuous evaluation and adjustment of the strategy and concept are required to be sustained over time.

The campaigns were largely funded by our own NGO, and part of the costs were funded by the Flemish Government.
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