Do like I say, not like I do

"Can I get a light?"

That's what a young boy asks in this video PSA, titled "Smoking Kid," from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and produced by Ogilvy & Mather. The video went viral and won a number of coveted advertising awards.

But the magic here is not the video itself — it's the guerrilla tactic of having a child ask for a light, be rebuffed by smoking adults and then present those adults with a card that reads:

You worry about me? But why not about yourself?

This campaign shows that adults do, indeed, understand the dangers of smoking — they can recite them to the child asking for a light. 

As Mike Allen of Jennings Co. stated in a recent blog post:

Most adults know that smoking is very harmful, but when you present it this way, it hits you right between the eyes. Watch it and see what I mean.

Yes, watch it. 

There is also growing evidence that graphic ads have led some to quit smoking, perhaps as many as 100,000 Americans already this year, according to a story in The New York Times. The piece quotes Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, which launched the campaign.

“I think the fact that you may die is not highly motivating to people. The fact that the remainder of your life may be very unpleasant is, and that’s what the data show. Not only do smokers die about 10 years younger than most people, but they feel about 10 years older than their age.”

So death doesn't motivate, but feeling old does. Well, whatever works!

The CDC campaign is called "Tips from Former Smokers."

Sources: Jennings Co. & The New York Times


Your idea of healthy living is … yours

Healthy living looks different to each individual.

But a healthy community is something everyone can visualize. And a goal to which every community can aspire.

It means better access to healthy foods, safe parks and playgrounds for kids, improved routes to walk and bike to school and work, and lowering the incidence of diseases — from diabetes to obesity to heart disease and beyond.

We can look at aggregate numbers of health behaviors and indicators that we want to improve — easy targets are smoking rates, obesity levels, amounts of exercise and incidences of high blood pressure — but everyone in our community will not be able to achieve every metric. 

But everyone can get healthier.

As we focus on building healthier communities, let's not forget individualism. That's why community minded health initiatives must focus on helping people achieve individual goals while aiming for a community goal. By doing so, we can help everyone find and reach their highest level of health — and improve all those aggregate measurements that give us an overall community health score.

Last month the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America issued a report, Collaboration to Build Healthier Communities, which explored how cross-sector partnerships can foster an environment that promote health. 

Cross-sector collaborations have had a positive impact on the health of many U.S. communities.

Cross-sector collaborations have had a positive impact on the health of many U.S. communities.

The report lauded the many and now widespread partnerships across the U.S. that are beginning to make a tangible difference in people's lives (I was proud to be a founding member of such a group, Voices for a Healthy SouthCoast).

The report offered three recommendations to keep the momentum going:

  1. National leadership: Many of these collabortions are local and regional. The RWJF suggests a formal national network to tie them together.
  2. Better skills and knowledge: Build an educational and training system that imparts technical and communication skills that will help these coalitions build capacity.
  3. Build through measurement: Create evidence-based resources, such as a national database, to help document and promote the progress. This will help bolster existing projects and give rise and confidence to those that are emerging.

It is exciting to see such great momentum, solid ideas and positive energy in the make our communities healthier movement. 

You can download the entire RWJF report here.