Smoking is universally accepted as one of the main problems affecting the modern society. This is a problem which does not come from nature. This is a problem created by us. Smoking is an activity voluntarily taken up by people of different ages, races, caste, creed and religion in full knowledge of its harmful effect. Sioux Falls is the biggest city in the state of South Dakota. South Dakota has one of the highest percentages of cigarette smokers in the country. As per data from CDC for the year 2012, 22% of the South Dakota residents either smoke or use some other form of tobacco products (CDC #2, 2013). The goal facing the administration of Sioux Falls city is to reduce the number of smokers and the illness, death and disability related to smoking. To help reduce smoking we first need to understand the causes of smoking. There are various reasons which help reduce smoking. Setting up a surveillance system is the first step to understand how deep the problem is in terms of youth smoking practices, awareness and influence of tobacco companies on youths. The trend of tobacco users’ increasingly falling victim to lung and cardiovascular diseases is a serious problem which can only be controlled if smokers show the willingness to quit smoking with the help of cessation programs. It is identified that smoking among youths in Sioux Falls is one of the highest in the country and this needs to be addressed immediately as the number of smokers are on a rise in recent years in the region. Health Campaign program for the youth is the primary agenda for the Sioux Falls City council. This essay will identify the difference between the local target population (youth smokers in Sioux Falls) and national trend and then devise a strategy to address the health campaign objective.
Youth Smoking: National Objectives and Trend till Today
When someone starts smoking at an early age there is a high chance that he will become a lifelong smoker. Besides young smokers there are people who begin to smoke at different age levels. In order to arrest the problem of smoking, the primary target audience has always been the young population. Government has taken different measures. The healthy people 2010 had the target to bring down the percentage of young smokers to 16% by 2010 but that was not achieved as the percentage of young smokers in 2010 was almost 20% (CDC #3, 2012). This became a huge concern for the health ministry and President Obama started a new more vigorous campaign against smoking. The first step was to increase the tobacco federal tax by a substantial amount. Federal government has beefed up its anti-smoking campaign and changed its policies so that high school students have less access to tobacco products.
Youth Smoking: National vs. Local
Target population for the health campaign is young people below the age of 20. They are called the young population in the smoking statistics. It is seen that at national level more than 90% of the current adult have started smoking before they turned 20. The overall number of smokers at national level has been around 20% for the last 5 years. Especially the number of youth smokers hasn’t seen any decline at all in last 5-6 years. The number of black female smokers has in fact gone up substantially from 2003 till date (CDC #3, 2012). This is a big concern at a national level because if the percentage of young smokers does not reduce then it will be difficult to reduce the total number of smokers. The US national motto is to reduce the percentage of young smokers. In case of Sioux Falls the goal is no different. Only difference between the national level and Southern part of South Dakota is that the problem is more prevalent in South Dakota than it is at national level. Around 22% of the young people are smokers and the number of young smokers is on a rise. This is highly alarming and needs immediate attention from the city council.
Community Based Responses against Youth Smoking
Traditionally clinical approaches along with increase in tax on cigarettes have worked wonders between 1970s and 1990s but since then the rate of decrease has gone down. Clinical and cost based approaches probably are no more effective as it used to be. Anti-smoking campaigns needs to be strengthened with the introduction of other relevant methods. Community based anti-smoking campaigns are definitely one of the most effective and evolving methods.
Smoking is not a problem which affects the people who smokes; it also affects the people who are around smokers. The percentage of active smokers in US is around 21% whereas more than 40% of the non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoking and 50% of the kids are exposed to passive smoking. So smoking is not a danger to the individual who has taken up smoking voluntarily but it also is a problem for the society at large. Different communities have taken up different programs to reduce smoking at local levels. There was a community campaign in Levin, New Zealand called ‘Levin Smoke Free Fun Week’. This was organized by the local community and the city council to spread awareness among the current smokers and young smokers. The campaign tried to conduct sessions on the very bad side effects of tobacco and how it can kill a person slowly. The campaign also provided free cessation counseling. The campaign also held a small exhibition where it demonstrated non nicotine smoking products and healthy smoking options. A survey was conducted before and after the campaign to see its effectiveness. It was seen that almost 18% of the people either completely quit smoking or have reduced consumption (Harvey, Tuffin & Tuffin). The percentage of young people who quit smoking after the campaign was even higher than the overall percentage and it was more encouraging to see that even after one year of the campaign most of those youths never started smoking again.
In Sioux Falls the problem is much more severe and the number of smokers is on a rise. The main aim of the Sioux Falls City Council is to create a ‘Tobacco Free Community’ (Sioux Falls Community Health Status, 2012). This type of community program organized by city council with the help of local anti-smoking groups and state government will help reduce the trend a lot. Sioux Falls should conduct Anti-Smoking week or similar kind of campaigns every year. This is not a costly affair for the city council and all members of the community can come together to help city council.
Apart from the above type of community programs which reaches the overall audience Sioux Falls needs to start campaign specifically for the young population. The main goal is to prevent high school students from taking up smoking and this can be achieved by promoting anti-smoking programs and health awareness program about smoking in collaboration with schools. Also the local city council can create policies like no tobacco shops can be established within 1 mile of the school boundary.
In 2012, Sioux Falls received funding from the South Dakota Department of Health through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Sioux Falls Health
Department (SFHD) took new and expanded approach to address the health of the Sioux Falls community. This included developing and facilitating a community health needs assessment (CHNA) and creating a Live Well Sioux Falls Coalition and Assessment Team (Live Well Team). SFHD also has plans to conduct community based yearly anti-smoking workshop (Sioux Falls Community Health Status, 2012). This way by starting different community based programs the Sioux City council will be able to connect different stakeholders of the society in the anti-smoking campaign. Health professionals, social activists, parents, smokers and policy makers will be trying to address the issue from the same platform.
Economic Factors, Funding & Social Marketing
Over a period of time it was established that one of the biggest deterrent of smoking is its price. With increase in price and taxes the number of smokers goes down. But like many price and user curves this price elasticity works only up to certain level. After a certain limit price or higher taxes do not deter smokers to smoke. In fact in some studies it was observed that whatever may be the price it has no effect on an individual’s decision to start smoking. Increasing tax is definitely a good idea to reduce the number of smokers but only increasing tax will not help.
The major funding requirement for the government to run an anti-smoking health campaign comes from its advertisements and cessation/counseling programs. Although community based programs are much less costly and easy to organize but statistics indicate that successful advertisement and media campaign along with effective cessation programs can convert more quit attempts to quit success (Ross, 2002). In fact a well-directed and well run media campaign is the most effective way to reach the young population as established in many studies (Gnich, 2004). Sioux Falls needs to arrange funds to boost up its advertisement campaigns in school and boost the state and federal run cessation programs.
There are several social marketing campaigns launched by federal, state and local governments in different media. Many of them were unable to achieve its aim and many more were even unable to reach its target audience due to poor marketing planning. However, Sioux Falls can look at the highly successful tobacco campaigns like the ‘true’ campaign launched in Florida and the National Tobacco Campaign (NTC) launched in Australia.
In Sioux Falls the target population for the anti-smoking health campaign is the young people. The percentage of young people who are taking up smoking in Sioux Falls is much higher than the national average and it is an alarming sign. Nationally the 2010 goal of reducing the number of young smokers to 16% was not achieved and the federal government since then has beefed up the anti-smoking campaign. Sioux Fall should also follow similar lines. Federal government has already increased the tax significantly which will help reduce the total consumption of cigarettes. Community based campaigns are the most cost effective way of bringing all stakeholders in a single platform from which this anti-smoking health campaign can be launched. Cessation program and social marketing requires more funding to be more effective in converting quit attempts to quit success rate. Sioux Falls city council should plan a health campaign that would be a mix of community based programs, social marketing targeted at young people and cessation program for all.
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