Media News: Radio stations link in anti-smoking push

Commercial radio stations across England are collaborating with the Department of Health (DoH) in a £1m initiative aimed at encouraging smokers to kick the habit.

'The Big Quit' activity, taking in 195 local radio stations owned by companies including GCap Media, Emap, Chrysalis, Saga and Premier, will be the biggest health campaign ever run on commercial radio.

The five-week campaign, through PHD Media and its specialist content division Drum, starts today (Wednesday). A five-day campaign encouraging smokers to set a date to quit will be followed by a series of trails and on-air editorial, involving about 1000 presenters, to support listeners in their attempt to stop smoking.

On-air activity, produced by Emap, will drive listeners to the campaign website, where listeners can commit to quitting and register for motivational SMS messages and emails. It also provides a link to the DoH's own 'Giving up smoking' website.

Emap has also created podcasts featuring advice on quitting from experts and famous ex-smokers that will be available to download.

Some bigger stations, including Capital Radio and Manchester's Key 103, will deploy street teams to run a smoking amnesty, as well as hosting a series of 'Fag-free Fridays'. For three successive weeks the teams will roam the streets rewarding listeners who have registered to quit and targeting others contemplating doing so.

The teams will offer smokers a lollipop in exchange for a cigarette packet.

They will be asked to write their name on the packet before entering it into a prize draw for the chance to win an all-inclusive trip to the Maldives.


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