NHS Coventry has delivered the city’s biggest ever initiative to help people stop smoking.

The work included generating demand for an increased local provision in stop smoking services, increasing the number of quality referrals made to SSS and motivating local people to want to quit smoking.

This work feeds into NHS Coventry’s Health Strategy, which aims to reduce the prevalence of smoking from 29% to 22% by 2013 by targeted action and greater provision of stop smoking services.

NHS Coventry worked in partnership with ICE whose social marketers utilised an existing piece of research to understand the views of local people – particularly routine and manual workers, pregnant women and young people – and to inform the development of the campaign.

They also reviewed Stop for Life data, which we aligned to our previous work with NHS Coventry on the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Fully Engaged projects.

Harnessing this insight, ICE created The Big Pledge identity to help bring the project to life and encourage local people to make a pledge to stop smoking either for themselves, for a friend or family member - or to make a pledge as a group of friends.

Based on the fact that it’s four times easier to stop smoking with help from the NHS, Coventry’s BIG Pledge was launched city-wide with the following challenge:

We pledge to help you stop smoking – what will you pledge?

Each aspect of the campaign depicted the three target audiences so that people could easily identify with “people like me”, and appeal to their various key motivators.  Based on the social marketing principle of “exchange” theory – which aims to understand from audiences - what it would take to get them to make a change, the campaign creatives illustrated real people from within three audience groups making personal pledges about why they were stopping smoking and triggered people to think about what their own motivation might be to make a behaviour change and pledge to stop smoking. 

•   Do it for you – make a personal pledge

•   Do it for someone you care about – make a pledge to stop smoking for your family, colleagues, partner etc

•   Do it together – make a pledge with family, neighbours or work colleagues because it’s much easier to quit together.

Before the campaign went live, the ‘can-do’ messaging and campaign creatives were tested with each audience group to ensure that it resonated with the target audiences and inspired them to take part.

The high impact campaign was launched in January to capitalise on the known trigger point of New Year for quitters.This coincided with the launch of the Big Pledge website, which allowed people to make their personal pledges online.

As it travelled around the city people were invited to come aboard the Big Pledge bus, test the age of their lungs, use CO2 monitors and take away ‘aged photos’ which showed what they would look like in 20 years time both as a smoker and a non-smoker.  Each of these interventions were followed up by trained smoking cessation professionals, who gave ‘pledger’s’ practical advice and information.

As part of a call to action, people were invited to make a pledge via telephone, email, text or the website, and each referral was recorded. Throughout the eight week campaign the number of pledges made (including group pledges), and the numbers who attended a SSS appointment as a result of referral were recorded.

Over eight weeks, the BIG Pledge collected over 850 registrations to take part in the challenge and stop smoking. This included group pledges from businesses, sports clubs, families and community groups.

Countless more were challenged to consider quitting and made aware of the support NHS Coventry offers them to do so. For example, over the two week road show event, more than 900 visited the team on the BIG Pledge Bus for information and advice – of these, 460 were referred to the stop smoking service.