Building a movement to fight Big Tobacco
For decades, Smokefree Oregon reduced rates of cigarette smoking. But by 2018, the tobacco industry had morphed, vaping was a craze, and it was time for a new fight. Smokefree Oregon shifted from building awareness to building a movement.
What was the challenge?
The tobacco industry continues to evade laws and dream up new products and marketing to turn young people into “replacement smokers.” With the vaping epidemic hooking a new generation on nicotine, and ongoing predatory and racist marketing practices by the tobacco industry, there is an urgent need for policies to protect public health and health equity. Across Oregon, awareness of the tobacco industry’s devious behavior was strong, but many people felt uncertain about how to fight a multi-billion-dollar industry.
What did we do?
MG talked to people in Oregon about how big a problem tobacco use is (big, especially among kids and communities targeted by the tobacco industry), what they think about the industry (it is deceitful and powerful), and whether they think anything could change (yes, if there were clear actions to take). With this input, MG developed a campaign that shows clearly that where people in Oregon see courage, inspiration and curiosity in young people, the tobacco industry sees only one thing: customers. By reminding people that our state has held the industry accountable before—creating smoke-free places and raising the age for tobacco purchases to 21—the campaign helps people see that “together, we are stronger than Big Tobacco.”
Ads in digital media and on billboards drove people to a new Smokefree Oregon website filled with stories, facts and easy actions people can take, from signing up for alerts to writing their elected officials. Tobacco prevention coordinators in counties and Tribes were trained and prepared to field calls from people ready to jump into the movement locally.
From our client
“As a firm that specializes in health equity, MG has taken the time to listen to how people view tobacco as an issue and want to stand up to the tobacco industry, and is able to deeply customize messages and actions—especially with communities that are targeted most heavily by the tobacco industry. Our MG team developed a creative, flexible and engaging strategy and creative campaign that offers people clear ways to be part of a movement to create a Smokefree Oregon.”
—Karen Girard, manager of Oregon Health Authority’s Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention section
As the campaign launched, website traffic soared, people shared campaign images in their social networks, and the email list started to build, generating a groundswell for a new movement ready to stand up to Big Tobacco.