Research type 
Year of report 

Summary of findings


As a brand, Smokefree has great potential to act as a vehicle for delivering positive messages. It already has a multitude of positive associations from freedom to wellbeing to clean air.

It was not difficult to stretch from Smokefree as a positive expression of the recent legislation to more abstract concepts such as a Smokefree world, lifestyle and movement.

The idea of Smokefree feels contemporary and forward looking and is about a societal as well as personal shift in thinking. Positive messages felt appropriate for future focused communications as even for an audience that lives in the present, dreaming about the future is motivating.

Indeed a Smokefree future is increasingly a plausible thought. Smoking already feels as if it is becoming a thing of the past and it feels to smokers as if the smoking world is being superseded by the Smokefree one. The pace of change feels rapid and irreversible as even recently the idea of a Smokefree future would have been unthinkable. However, the legislation has had a substantial impact on the way people feel about smoking.

The idea of a Smokefree future was most compelling for younger smokers, especially those with young families. Their futures are rich with potential and they are optimistic about the opportunities which may come their or their children’s way.

However, it will inevitably leave some people behind. Older smokers did not feel part of this new aspirational Smokefree world. The Smokefree movement just felt too contemporary to them.

In terms of communication, Smokefree can encompass a host of meanings and expressions but it worked best when these were kept broad and open-ended. It was not about dealing in specifics but about conveying aspirational thoughts. Its natural fit was in areas where smoking was considered particularly intrusive or unwelcome so spaces such as the family, the home, sport, health, wellbeing and beauty.

It was less appropriate in areas entrenched in the smoking world such as the pub, bookmakers, bingo hall and even the world of entertainment.

It can conceivably be the glue for all smoking messages but its strength lies in communicating positive thoughts. Negative associations could detract from its incredible positivity.

As signage in environments and spaces it does not flourish but rather becomes a polite instruction. If used in a variety of environments it has most potential if it contains a message appropriate for that space. Therefore it could become about health and fitness in a leisure centre and about appearance in the hair or beauty salon.

Its tonality was also key to acceptance and appreciation and as an idea it worked best when it was warm, open and non-judgemental. Instructions can exist in the world of support but Smokefree should be a place where people choose to exist. It was all the more powerful for its seductiveness.

Research objectives


The main research objectives were to:

  • Explore how to create an effective communications program which positively influences and engages an R&M target
  • Explore how best to evolve Smokefree into a brand which can lead the positive cause
  • Determining existing associations with Smokefree
  • Exploring how Smokefree might lead the positive cause



The Department of Health has two PSA targets for smoking, due in 2010:

  • To reduce the prevalence of smoking from 24% to 21% amongst the general adult population.
  • To reduce prevalence amongst routine and manual (R&M) working groups from 31% to 26%.

The first objective is on track but there is much to do to reach the second objective. Over the next three years the government will focus efforts on urging routine and manual smokers to recognise that smoking is at odds with their relationships and family. The strategy will feature both positively and negatively framed messages with the intention that these messages will work together to ‘surround’ the target group in order to enhance motivation.

Positive messaging could have many specific roles over and above a need to ‘create a positive vision of the future’. Recent tracking research has revealed that positive ‘pull’ messaging can be most effective outside of a traditional, ‘top down’ TV lead approach

Quick summary


As a brand, Smokefee has great potential to act as a vehicle for delivering positive messages, it can conceivably be the glue for all smoking messages but its strength lies in communicating positive thoughts.

Audience Summary





Representative sample of ethnic mix in each area




Social Class

  • C2
  • D




12 x 2 hour group discussion groups (behaviour divided across Smokers, Quitters, Ex-Smokers and Non-Smokers) with 6-8 respondents in each group.

Data collection methodology

Focus groups

Sample size


n = c 84

Detailed region


Research was conducted in London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle and Nottingham.

Fieldwork dates


7-13 August 2008

Contact Name

Gill Carruthers



Research Manager

Agree to publish



Research agency

The Nursery

COI Number


Report format