Be Smart, Don’t Start; KSU, four organisations, Health Directorate launch anti-smoking campaign

A campaign titled ‘Be Smart, Don’t Start’ aiming to deter youths from starting the habit of smoking has been launched. The campaign will raise awareness on the negatives of smoking to youths in the hope that less people fall into this habit.

Organised by the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate in collaboration with KSU, Pulse, Studenti Demokristjani Maltin (SDM), Malta Medical Students Association (MMSA) and the Malta Health Students Association (MHSA), the campaign will run for a month across a variety of different mediums, one of which being a short advert appearing on local television.

The motivation of the campaign was to raise awareness with students on the negatives of smoking; be them in terms of physical health, mental health or even in terms of economy. Doing so, it is hoped, will help dissuade students from taking up smoking in the first place.

The campaign points out that the ‘real cost’ of smoking s 20 cigarette packet a day is substantial. A month without spending money on cigarettes could lead to an annual gym membership, whilst a whole year saving the money one would otherwise spend on cigarettes could result in a 7 day all inclusive cruise. In the longer term, saving the 6 euro or so a day one would spend on packets of cigarettes for five years would result in 10,080 euros saved – or a boat – whilst the figure doubles to 20,160 – or the equivalent of a cross-over SUV.

The Health Directorate explained that given that the rate of daily smoking among 15-year-old had halved between 2006 and 2014 from 12% to 6%, this campaign will be aimed at older adolescents. It is due to this reason that the directorate sought the help of multiple student organisations on campus.

Aside from Be Smart, Don’t Start, the directorate has also opened a smoking cessation clinic within the new Health and Wellness Centre at the University of Malta. Furthermore, the directorates quitline is always open at 8007 3333.

Apart from leading this joint campaign, the directorate will be providing training sessions for health professionals in providing smoking cessation advice to their patients or clients Indeed the directorate explained that advice from health professionals has shown to increase the percentage of smokers who stop or seek smoking cessation services.