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Fear won’t stop you from smoking (or other bad habits)

It’s the funniest thing that campaigns to stop people smoking seem to be based around fear. They make tobacco companies put those weird pictures of bloodied & cancered organs on cigarette cartons; they post infomercials on how tar is in your lungs; and they generally scare you to stop you from smoking. Guess what? It doesn’t work.

Ooh, big surprise you say. “It’s obvious isn’t it?”

Well, apparently it’s not that obvious to the government and all their fancy advisers. All those campaigns endorse fear. Fear doesn’t change behaviour. Proof? Many know that their habits are bad but don’t change those habits.

Examples of bad habits: Smoking, drunk driving, procrastination, over-eating, anorexia, alcoholism, etc.

Why Fear Doesn’t Work

Honestly, I have no idea why it doesn’t work. But its been proven not to. Some argue that the people exposed to the campaigns believe that “it won’t happen to me”. Others say that the fear makes a temporary change because people don’t want to stay focused on their fears.

What To Do

What IS needed in a campaign is a clearly defined road to get from “here” to “there”. Clear instruction will allow people to act on their motivations (whatever they are).

Make a simple campaign. Take an average person that suffers from [insert bad habit here] and show how he handles the problems that are likely to face the person. Problems like social pressure, finances, medicines needed, where to find supplies, government help and where those centers are located, etc.

It would work much better I’m sure.

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