Thursday, March 09, 2006

It Takes A Long Time 

It is easy as a communicator to fall into the trap of believing that powerful messages change behavior. They might but rarely right away. I was reminded of this from two sources. The first was a client who was talking yesterday about the subject and used her own experience of giving up smoking. She said six months after she stopped smoking, she was walking on a street in New York City and suddenly realized how bad smoking is. That is the essence of this story announcing sales of cigarettes have reached a 55-year low point in the US. The story seems positive, then you realize how many cigarettes were made and sold in the US last year -- 378 billion. That's billion with a B.

There is still a long way to go to get people to stop smoking.

The amazing part of it is that American society shuns smokers. They can't smoke in restaurants, in office buildings, in transportation terminals and in some places, anywhere indoors. They are bombarded with messages telling them that smoking is bad. Parents yammer at them, wives and girlfriends, children, doctors and bosses and advertisers offering nicotine patches. The price of cigarettes has skyrocketed.

They still smoke.

In their defense, smokers are addicted, but even so, all forms of communications have yet to help millions stop. It is hard to change behavior and always will be, and a little communication is never enough.


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