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INTRODUCTION
With approximately 5 million tobacco-related deaths annually, tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable premature mortality in the world (1). According to a recent survey (2), one of the basic problems of anti-smoking centers in Italy and also in Europe, is the low number of entrances, despite the high number of smokers present. As evidenced by recent international studies (3,4), the use of media campaigns, could be useful to increase the knowledge on medical and scientific activities in the antitabagic field. However, while we know the positive effects of these campaigns in promoting healthy behaviour and the raised awareness on smoking damages, nothing is known about the effects of media campaigns aimed to prompt smokers to start smoking cessation program with physicians. Indeed, if the smoking damages and the need to stop, are socially recognized concepts, the physician’s antismoking activities to help people to cure tobacco addiction, aren’t known (5).
OBJECTIVE
A communication plan, dedicated to Tobacco Prevention and Treatment Center of Catania University, has been realized. In the course of 2011, the most interesting activities of CPCT, were selected to create an information profile for the public and for the media through the launch of press releases, locally, nationally and internationally, with publication and dissemination of related news on TV, newspapers and Internet also on social networks and forums. Media campaigns have been built to increase the number of accesses to the antismoking center, increase the number of people wanting to stop smoking and raising the level of knowledge of the CPCT, up to now in decline as evidenced by a survey (1).
METHOD
To test the impact of communication campaigns, we compared the number of accesses to the center within 15 days after the press release launch, compared to periods in which no dissemination activities were done and no media published related news. During 2011, six campaigns about center’s activities were launched.
MEDIA CAMPAIGN
20/January/11
A press release on the ECLAT project, about the first clinical study in Europe on efficacy and safety of electronic cigarettes, was made. The campaign caused an increase of 57 new members to the antismoking center, in comparison to 7 in the neutral period.
Press release: https://www.liaf-onlus.org/comunicato.php?id=24-electronic-cigarettes-hel…
Press review: https://www.liaf-onlus.org/rassegna_stampa.php?s=rassegna&page=9
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15I6-HSizOM&feature=youtube_gdata_player
20/March/11
A press release concerning the awarding of the GRAND on nicotine dependence research for smokers with diabetes (Diasmoke), was launched bringing 16 new members in comparison to 7 in the neutral period.
Press release: https://www.liaf-onlus.org/comunicato.php?id=2-progetto-diasmoke-l-italia…
Press review: http://www.ilfarmacistaonline.it/scienza-e-farmaci/articolo.php?articolo…
06/April/11
A press release about the clinical study conducted in collaboration with local pharmacies about smoking and osteoporosis, was spread bringing 14 new members in comparison to 6 in the neutral period.
Press release: https://www.liaf-onlus.org/comunicato.php?id=17-osteoporosi-fumo-e-depres…
Press review: http://www.agendabda.unict.it/open_page.php?sez=articolo&id=5632
30/May/11
A press release regarding local and regional initiatives for Antismoking World Day 2011, was sent bringing 47 new members, in comparison to 7 in the neutral period.
Press release: https://www.liaf-onlus.org/comunicato.php?id=14-no-tobacco-day-31-maggio-…
Press review: http://www.italia-news.it/salute-c13/giornata-mondiale-senza-tabacco–i-…
10/September/11
A press release, concerning the preliminary results of ECLAT study published on international journals, was launched bringing 19 new members to CPCT, in comparison to 11 in the neutral period.
Press release: https://www.liaf-onlus.org/comunicato.php?id=19-le-sigarette-elettroniche…
Press review: http://www.quotidianosanita.it/scienza-e-farmaci/articolo.php?articolo_i…
20/October/11
A press release, about two anti-smoking projects, one aimed at employees of a factory in Catania and another for the parents of children from soccer schools, who are smokers, was made bringing 46 new members in comparison to 8 in the neutral period.
Press release: https://www.liaf-onlus.org/comunicato.php?id=8-medicina-dello-sport-liaf-…
https://www.liaf-onlus.org/comunicato.php?id=26-progetto-pfizer-azienda-s…
Press review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1NGL_4EcYaY#!
http://www.controcampus.it/2011/10/unict-medicina-dello-sport/
The media campaign was realized in collaboration with LIAF, Italian No smoking association. https://www.liaf-onlus.org/index.php
CONCLUSION
These communication campaigns have created greater awareness of the CPCT of Catania University and its services and has allowed an increase in the number of smoker to the center in 2011, compared to the average of the smoker arrived in the center since 2002 (year of creation of the center) to 2010. In 2011, 286 smokers have been treated compared to the average of 187.66 persons per year refering to the years 2002-2010.
These data suggest that the planning and the use of a targeted communication campaign, may be useful to increase the knowledge of the anti-smoking center, fostering successful activities and initiatives undertaken and enticing a greater number of smokers motivated to undertake a process of smoking cessation. This process is it also easily transferable and applicable to other centers, because every University or Hospital have a communication and press office that can do it.
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