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Enviromedia produces a new social norms ad about teen smoking in Texas.

The ad follows a similar structure to the “15 and falling” campaign about teen smoking in Canada by combining a descriptive norm message.

So do social norms ad targeted at teens need a dash of teen humor to make them stick?

The Nudge blog asked Enviromedia creative director Doug Irving for a peek behind the curtain about the ad’s origins. Doug said his team wasn’t aware of the “15 and falling ad” campaign, but definitely drew from the lessons of social norms work.

We knew from research (our own (qualitative research) and (the) Texas Dept. of State Health Services’ (quantitative research)) that peers are the biggest influencers among teen smokers. We’re also familiar with the power of social norming as a behavior-change and myth-busting technique. So when we came across a stat that so vividly illustrates how smoking has become a fringe habit, bingo…

That’s the science. As far as the art, we know you have to present your compelling fact in an entertaining way that cuts through the eight zillion other advertising messages teens have learned to tune out in a typical day. Humor isn’t the only way, but when it’s on the money, it’s hard to beat.

When our creative teams share their initial raw ideas, I’m searching for something that’s got the right balance between memorable, repeat-viewing-worthy weird and still delivering that message. Anything that drifts toward finger-wagging or adult versions of “cool” never makes it to the client meeting. If it makes everyone laugh the fifth time you present it, that’s a good sign.

In this case, spots involving a falconer, a coughed-up lung and the shushing foot seemed to hit the sweet spot. Some additional testing with teens in the target confirmed the foot as the winner. And here we are today.

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1) A safe that locks away tempting objects for between two minutes and four days. Hat tip: Thomas Sander.

2) Kids like Frosted Flakes because of Tony the Tiger.

3) “Microsoft built its browser so that users must deliberately turn on privacy settings every time they start up the software.

4) Cigarette packaging ideas for discouraging smoking. Hat tip: Dan Greenberg.

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In anticipation of a ban against using words such as “light” or “mild” on cigarette labels and ads, tobacco companies have lightened package colors to convey the same message…All Salem packages used to be the same shade of green, but now packages previously called “lights” are a lighter green and white, and “ultra lights” are a pale gray and white.

Full story in USA Today.

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The Boston Globe reports:

Massachusetts is poised to become the first state in the nation to force retailers to prominently display graphic warnings about the perils of smoking right where cigarettes are sold — at tobacco sales racks and next to cash registers.

Images of ominously darkened lungs, damaged brains, and diseased teeth could start appearing before the end of the year in more than 9,000 convenience stores, pharmacies, and gas stations, if a proposal by the state Department of Public Health is approved as expected.

If these sorts of tactics achieve limited success with college students, why should we expect any different results for Massachusetts smokers?

Hat tip: Kare Anderson.

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Assorted links

1) A talking plate that tells you when you’re eating too fast. Yes, it actually talks. No, it doesn’t look fun to eat on. Hat tip: Nirant Gupta

2) A pilot program in the U.K. that gives loans to homeowners for buying energy efficient technologies at no upfront cost. Loan repayments are made over time. Hat tip: Kare Anderson.

3) A claim that cigarette warnings might encourage some people to smoke. Hat tip: Freakonomics.

4) Donate to Haitian relief via texting. Consider the American Red Cross and Yéle Haiti. These two options are not scams. Here’s more on what to know about text donations. Hat tip: Amy Schultz.

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1) A classroom nudge for college professors. Include one lie in each lecture and ask students to point out the error. They’ll pay attention to the material more closely.

Hat tip: David de Souza

2) Enviromedia, friend of the Nudge blog and the creator of greenwashingindex.com, a tool for ferreting out misleading green ads, has unveiled a new web site, greendetectives.net, to help people decode the language of climate change. The United Nation’s climate change conference is this month in Copenhagen.

3) Philadelphia now requires that lenders and homeowners meet in person prior to foreclosure. Will these meetings lessen foreclosure rates?

Hat tip: Christopher Daggett

4) Tips for remembering your reusable grocery bag.

Hat tip: Katie Astofer

5) Because it’s just too good to resist. From a 1952 Life magazine.

Hat tip: Thought Gadgets

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File this away in the unintended consequences vault: Drunk driving deaths in the U.S. spike following smoking ban laws.

Although an increased accident risk might seem surprising at first, two strands of literature on consumer behavior suggest potential explanations—smokers driving longer distances to a bordering jurisdiction that allows smoking in bars and smokers driving longer distances within their jurisdiction to bars that still allow smoking, perhaps through non-compliance or outdoor seating. We find evidence consistent with both explanations. The increased miles driven by drivers wishing to smoke and drink offsets any reduction in driving from smokers choosing to stay home following a ban, resulting in increased alcohol-related accidents.

The increases are between 10 and 19 percent. The paper, by Scott Adams and Chad Cotti, is here.

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Reader Dan Pecoraro says he has had this idea about cigarettes “for awhile.” Pecoraro’s idea is more intricate than a simple contractual agreement between individuals to quit smoking, and includes a public policy angle. Implementing it would probably be an expensive headache. Pecoraro knows that. Think of this as an idea in the conceptual stage.

Continue reading the post here.

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The last estimate we found for the influence of smoking habits by a spouse was 40 percent, meaning the spouse of a person who quits is 40 percent more likely to quit as well. A new study, of a 30-year social network comprised of 12,000 people (the same one used to study obesity), authored by a Harvard medical professor and a UC-San Diego political scientists, estimates spousal influence at almost 70 percent! Even having a co-worker who quits increased a person’s chance of quitting by 34 percent.

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One married couple. Two smokers. One goes cold turkey. What happens to the other? Quit entirely? Smoke less? How much less? A paper by David Cutler and Edward Glaeser at Harvard’s Kennedy School investigate spousal influence on smoking. Measuring this influence on any behavior has always been tricky because both spouse’s decisions influence the other. To get around this problem, Cutler and Glaeser use a complex statistical model in which they use the presence of workplace bans for one spouse to measure the reduction in smoking by the other spouse.

Cutler and Glaeser estimate that the effect of one spouse’s quitting on the other is, on average, 40 percent. However, the influence is not symmetric. Wives have a bigger impact on husbands than husbands have on wives. Impacts are larger among spouses with higher education levels. The two also try to determine whether smoking bans have spillover effects beyond individual marriages. These effects show up at aggregation levels beyond individuals, which means that cities and states with workplace smoking bans have lower smoking rates overall. This need not be the case. People could simply shift their smoking patterns, which would not change state smoking rates dramatically. Since the evidence does not suggest this happens, they conclude that broader smoking bans that go beyond individual workplaces could reduce smoking. They write:

These results suggest that policy interventions that impact an individual’s smoking habit will have both direct effects and also indirect effects through on the smoking of peers. Workplace bans seem not only to have reduced worker smoking but also the smoking of the worker’s spouse. Our results also suggest that interventions are likely to have larger impacts when they are imposed at higher levels of aggregation, although we found little evidence suggesting that social interactions can explain the shape of the time series of smoking rates.

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