Using Tobacco Control Policies to Increase Consumer Demand for Smoking Cessation

In a way, smoking cessation is competing with cigarette marketers for a share of the smoker consumer market. Therefore, tobacco-control practitioners face a challenge to make smoking cessation a more attractive consumer choice than that offered by cigarette marketers. The same principles of marketing that tobacco companies use can be used to make quitting more competitive.

This commentary reviews what drives consumer demand for cessation and how it lags behind what tobacco companies do to drive consumer demand for their products.

Among areas where smoking cessation can improve:

  • Marketing: Make packaging of smoking–cessation services and products—such as the widely used transdermal nicotine patch—more attractive. Use creative promotions to increase use of quitlines.
  • Policy: Enhance tobacco-control polices such as those endorsed by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which is ratified by 164 nations (but not the United States).

The most dangerous products—cigarettes—should not be the most attractive to consumers. We need to better understand the wants, needs and desires of tobacco-control target populations in order to devise products and messages that meet consumer demands; and then get those products and messages in places where the target audience can access them.

This article is part of a special issue on tobacco cessation in the March 2010 edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.