Resource Development

Torres Health’s mascot Malu with a selection of TIS resources

Developing program resources and health promotion collateral is an important part of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) work. Working with the community to co-design and co-create locally relevant resources is recognised as the best way to ensure resources are effective. This is because resources that are developed with the community are more likely to reflect community experiences, priorities and values. This in turn makes them more relatable, believable, and persuasive. Resources co-designed with the community are also evidence-based because they preference local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and voices.

Building resources with community input is also a good way to increase community engagement with the program. This also empowers the community, giving them ownership of the program and its resources. As the World Health Organization explains, this builds community capacity for change, and supports them to take back control over their the health decisions that affect their lives. Finally, when resource development involves the community, it also becomes another opportunity to share knowledge and information about smoking and vaping and pathways to quitting. This knowledge sharing should be a two-way process. As well as sharing information about the benefits of being smoke and vape free, co-design workshops provide an opportunity to learn more about local experiences and identify program ambassadors.


Locally developed branding that uses recognisable artwork and includes locally meaningful colours, symbols and patterns, is more likely to be seen as reliable and relatable. This means that the message it delivers is more likely to be listen to and believed. This will ensure that any messaging is more effective for changing attitudes, knowledge and behavioural intentions. Where local people have been involved in the development of that branding, community also feel ownership of both the branding and the messaging it delivers.

Sticky Slogans

In marketing terms, a slogan is a powerful brand promise. For health promotion slogans are descriptive one-liners that remind people what a program (brand) is all about. It’s another way of making the health promotion message memorable. Make the message ‘stick’ by using:

  • Short direct slogans. This makes them easier to remember. The evidence suggests that seven words maximum is a good rule of thumb.
  • Catchy rhymes and rhythms that act like ‘mental glue’. This includes alliteration (‘Slip, slap, slop’), repetition (‘New year, New you’ and ‘Never give up, giving up’) and rhyme (‘Smoke-free, the way to be’)

Slogans should also be relevant to the program message (this makes them meaningful) and easy to understand. Using plain language and a simple message will also make it easier for people to understanding and remember the main meaning of the message. Using local language and expressions will also help make the slogan memorable and meaningful.

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress slogan – ‘Smoke free, the way to be’

Credible messages

Eye catching branding and short direct messaging are a great way to catch people’s attention. Once you have their attention you need them to understand and believe your message. There are several ways of doing this:

  • Images are a great way of making your message easier to understand and more appealing. Local artwork can make the message more trustworthy and credible.
  • Quit stories from local Elders, Smoke-Free ambassadors, national or local celebrities will make the message more compelling because it is authentic, which makes it engaging, believable and meaningful. Evidence support the trustworthiness of personal stories.
  • Making sure messages are accurate and reflect the latest scientific evidence. Always use trusted information sources like the TIS website and Tobacco in Australia.

Nganampa Health Council ‘Protect the children from the effects of smoking’ poster by Pitjantjatjara artist and Aboriginal Health Worker Pantjiti Lewis

Strengths-based messaging

Research evidence supports the use of strengths-based messaging. Evidence has suggested that the impact of warning messages reduces over time, with people who smoke becoming desensitised or immune to graphic imagery and shock tactics. Deficit messages which reinforce ill-health and disadvantage can also be disempowering for the community. Avoiding messages which suggest individual blame or shame should therefore be avoided. This includes not labelling people by their behaviour. For example, talking about ‘people who smoke,’ not ‘smokers’.

Focusing on strengths-based messaging does not mean that talking about the harm that smoking or vaping causes is taboo. However evidence shows that making the message about the benefits of not smoking or vaping (“gains framed messaging”) rather than the harms of smoking or vaping (“loss framed messaging”) is more effective (see Box 1). Thinking about what will motivate people to quit can help. Important motivators include:

  • keeping children and family safe from ill-health
  • having more money for food, holidays, or treats for family
  • being stronger and fitter for sport
  • looking after Country.

There is also evidence that strengths-based messaging separates individual and cultural identity from smoking behaviours. For example, the message that ‘Tobacco smoke harms, traditional smoke heals’ or the emphasis on ‘Tobacco smoking is not our culture’.

Recent evidence from Canadian First Nations researchers identifies a number of strengths that can be used to reinforce health education messages. These include:

  • using community knowledge and resources in messaging
  • sharing Indigenous ways of being and doing in educational messages
  • focusing on meaningful relationships with self and others in the community
  • recognising the ‘good actions of how we live and treat each other’.

Grand Pacific Health’s ‘Smoking is not a part of our culture’ campaign

Box 1: Gain-Framed and Loss-Framed Health Promotion Messages

Health promotion messages can either be framed positively, highlighting the benefits of quitting (strengths-based or ‘gain-framed’), or negatively, emphasising the risks of continuing to smoke (deficit-based or ‘loss-framed’).

For example:

Gain-framed message: “Quitting smoking reduces your risk of lung cancer.”
Loss-framed message: “Smoking increases your risk of lung cancer.”

Anti-smoking campaigns often focus on the dangers of smoking (loss framing). However, research suggests emphasising the positive outcomes of quitting (gain framing) is an effective strategy to encourage people to quit smoking.

Call to action

Good health promotion is not just about sharing knowledge and information. Educational resources are a good starting point for changing attitudes and behavioural intentions but are more effective when they include a call to action (CTA). A CTA encourages people to respond the message shared on the resource, for example by committing never to vape, calling the Quitline or pledging to have a smoke and vape free home and car. A CTA should be easy to remember, compelling and appealing. You can read more about CTAs on this page.

In summary, effective resources:

  • reflect local culture and language
  • use plain language and visuals to convey their message
  • include local ambassadors and local stories making them relatable and meaningful
  • use accurate and up to date information and evidence
  • focus on the benefits of quitting smoking/vaping (or never starting)
  • appeal to people’s motivations for being smoke-free
  • include a clear call to action.

Teams are encouraged to talk to their NBPU TIS Program Officer throughout the resource development process. Program Officers can give feedback to make sure resources are in-line with TIS program principles and take advantage of the latest evidence. They can also act as a proof-reader. See this factsheet for more information.