May 3, 2010

Arabic ad has smokes under fire

A SOCIAL marketing campaign targeting Arabic-speaking smokers in southwest Sydney has recorded a significant drop in tobacco use.

The “Ma’feesh cigara men gheir Khosara” (There is no cigarette without loss) campaign saw smoking rates drop by more than 5 per cent.

The tobacco control project focused on Arabic communities in Liverpool, Canterbury, Bankstown and Campbelltown.

Promotions on Arabic radio stations, billboards, bus advertisements and in Arabic language newspapers emphasised the health risks of smoking.

Following the campaign, bilingual interviewers surveyed more than 1000 participants to determine smoking rates.

Associate professor Chris Rissel from Sydney South West Area Health Service said the impact on tobacco use was significant.

“We focused on how smoking harms the family household. That was quite powerful,” Dr Rissel said.

“We had an overall drop in the prevalence of smoking from 26 per cent to 20 per cent.”

The study, published in the journal Health Promotion International, also reported a decline in the number of smoke-free homes of almost 8 per cent.

The marketing campaign had the biggest impact on married men over the age of 40 and the highest socio-economic groups, as well as the unemployed.

Researchers will continue to work with cafes and retailers to show the health impacts of inhaling smoke through water pipes.

Dr Rissel said the health effects of flavoured water pipes can be worse than cigarettes.