Mass media and social media campaigns

Mass media and social media campaigns use social marketing techniques to try and reduce the number of people who smoke and/or vape by changing attitudes, beliefs, and intentions about tobacco and/or vape use. Social marketing uses knowledge about the intended audience to develop targeted marketing messages. Campaigns promote being smoke and vape free as desirable and attainable. They do this by:

  • sharing information about the negative consequences of smoking or vaping
  • highlighting the benefits of not smoking or vaping
  • raising awareness of available quit support.

Social marketing campaigns use education to:

  • prevent the uptake of smoking or recreational vaping
  • promote quit attempts in people who currently smoke or vape
  • encourage smoke and vape free homes and cars.

Effective social marketing campaigns include a clear call to action (CTA). The CTA prompts the audience to respond the campaign message, for example by committing never to vape, calling the Quitline or pledging to have a smoke and vape free home and car. Box 1 has more information about the CTA.

Box 1: What is a call to action?

A call to action (CTA) encourages people to do something after you have provided them with health information. It should be easy to remember, compelling and appealing. An effective CTA will:

  • Highlight ONE action to take (providing too many choices leads to information overload and in-action).
  • Use clear, direct communication (plain language and a clear message that is not open to interpretation).
  • Focus on the benefits of the action (this is more likely to persuade someone to act).
  • Provide a sense of urgency (this can compel someone to take action now and not wait until later when they might have forgotten the message).
  • Use action verbs and commands (makes the next step clearer and easy to action).
  • Use memorable slogans, sticky messages and recognisable branding (again, this makes the CTA more memorable and appealing).

Campaign messages can be shared using:

  • traditional media (e.g., TV, radio, newspapers, other print media)
  • ‘out-of-home’ media (e.g., bus wraps, billboards, bus stand posters, videos in clinics, posters at schools or in workplaces)
  • social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc.).

A 2021 publication from the Mayi Kuwayu study showed that education provided by the TIS program has changed awareness and understanding of the impact of smoking on long term health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. We know that negative attitudes towards smoking are an important precursor to smoking behaviour change. Anti-smoking attitudes are more likely to lead to quit attempts, and to successful long term smoke free living.

There is evidence that social marketing campaigns can help prevent smoking from starting, encourage people to stop smoking, and prevent relapse among recent quitters by reminding them about why they chose to stop smoking. However one of the biggest effects is in relation to promoting access to cessation support services such as Quitline, counselling and other health professionals. Developing capacity to support people who are ready to quit – by taking the systems approach described under Planning Guidance, is therefore essential if programs are to be sustainable.

Social marketing campaigns also prevent uptake of vaping, encourage cessation and prevent relapse. Because the main audience for anti-vaping campaigns is youth, emerging evidence supports the use of social media to deliver these messages.

A campaign’s impact is influenced by:

  • repetition – the more often the messages are heard, the more likely they are to sink in
  • reach – how far the messages are spread, how large the audience is
  • intensity – how regularly the messages are heard
  • how long the campaign is – it needs to be long enough for all target audiences to have heard the message but not so long that they get sick of it and tune out.

Don’t Make Smokes Your Story campaign ad

The relevance of the message has been found to be important for audience engagement. The context, characters and role models used in advertising or community activities must seem believable, if people who smoke are to connect to them. When a campaign does not relate to how people see themselves, they find it hard to become interested in the content. While there is some evidence that mass media campaigns do influence attitudes and beliefs of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people regarding smoking, more specific local messages tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seem to be most effective. Evidence from the Talking About The Smokes project also supports the importance of using targeted advertising.

The Australian Government’s Don’t Make Smokes Your Story campaign is a good example of how advertising and community-based activities can work together to encourage behaviour change among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke. You can adapt and use these materials and resources for your own activities.

In 2024, the Australian Government launched a new national campaign ‘Give Up For Good’. The campaign includes four separate but complementary advertising streams to raise awareness of the health harms of smoking and vaping and encourage Australians to seek support from newly expanded quit support services.

The campaigns will run across television, digital video and audio, social media, gaming, radio, cinema and out-of-home channels like billboards, shopping centres and bus shelters. Box 2 gives more information on the four campaign streams.

Box 2: ‘Give Up For Good’ campaign streams

Why are we still doing this? – young people who vape

This advertising stream seeks to disrupt and counter the high exposure of e-cigarette advertising aimed at young people aged 14 to 24, focusing on the social benefits of quitting together, to increase young people’s confidence in their ability to quit and empower them to take control of their physical and mental health. It shows a clear arc to addiction through demonstrations of nicotine dependency and isolation. It features messaging about how vaping can quickly progress from the early ‘casual’ stage of using vapes, to becoming addictive and causing people to lose enjoyment from their social activities and connections.

Dedicated resources have also been developed for parents and carers, and others who support young people’s efforts to quit. This includes a conversation guide, fact sheet and frequently asked questions.

You can view the campaign materials at

Vaping. Are you really choosing anymore? – adults who vape

The creeping nature and emotional impact of nicotine addiction, has the potential to motivate people to question their vaping habits. This creative stream demonstrates the path to addiction and prompts the audience to question whether they are really in control of their vaping. It shows that quit support services can help people reduce their reliance on or addiction to nicotine, regardless of whether they smoke or vape.

You can view the campaign materials at

Choose your hard – adults who smoke

This smoking-specific stream of creative illustrates that whilst quitting is hard, the devastating long-term consequences of smoking are much harder. The creative seeks to drive quit attempts and prevent uptake and product switching, whilst connecting people with evidence-based cessation tools to support them.

You can view the campaign materials at

Keep at quitting – First Nations adults who smoke

The campaign includes materials to engage with First Nations communities and motivate, empower, and encourage quit attempts. Materials will be supported by a strong community education and engagement strategy.

You can view the campaign materials at