A new tobacco cessation program from the Canadian Cancer Society, called Break It Off, will use new digital campaigning techniques funded by Health Canada to help a certain sector of Canadians kick the habit. Led by the Society's free cessation service - Smokers' Helpline - the campaign is aimed at young adults, age 19-29, who have the highest smoking rate in the country.
"The Government of Canada is proud to support the Canadian Cancer Society in encouraging and enabling young adults to quit smoking," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. "Overall smoking rates have dropped significantly in recent years, but rates among young adults aged 20 to 24 remain well above the Canadian average. This is why Health Canada is supporting this important project, which will use the strength of social media to help reduce tobacco use among this priority demographic."
The Break It Off campaign uses a "breakup" metaphor, comparing quitting smoking with ending a romantic relationship, in order to provide support and encourage young Canadians to "break up" with their smoking addiction. The campaign's website, BreakItOff.ca, guides the user through the challenging stages of ending an unhealthy tobacco relationship: getting it over with, staying split up and moving on with life.
The website is also a resource hub for users to learn about proven quit methods, such as phone counselling, patches, gums, and inhalers. It includes a quick link for smokers to connect with a Smokers' Helpline Quit Coach, and is accompanied by fun, interactive social media features. Users can download a free mobile app for instant support when they are "stressed, angry, tipsy or bored." They can see how many cigarettes have been "dumped" by their peers who have used Break It Off. Users can also upload a video of themselves "breaking up" with cigarettes ("a public break up can greatly increase your chances of dumping smoking for good.") Videos will be collected on YouTube with the goal of creating "the world's biggest break up" with smoking.
"We know that smoking can be an incredibly difficult addiction to quit, but it is easier with support," adds Donna Czukar, Senior Director of Support Programs, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. "Break It Off provides a link to support from those closest to you through Facebook and YouTube, and immediate access to professional support from the quit coaches at Smokers' Helpline."
The site also has compelling information about the health effects of smoking, such as a list of highly toxic chemicals contained in cigarettes ("You're dating more than just nicotine - the shameful secrets it didn't want you to know").
National Non-Smoking Week, which has been hosted by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control (CCTC) for more than three decades, has announced that its theme for 2012 is "Breaking up is hard to do." The CCTC compares tobacco addiction to a dependent relationship and is encouraging Canadians to "kiss tobacco goodbye" this week, coinciding with the launch of the Break It Off campaign.
Canadians can join the Break It Off community at www.BreakItOff.ca.