The Great American Smoke-Out and the Imagery It Inspires

Ready, set, quit!

Oh, if it were only that easy. Every year on the third Thursday in November, this year falling on the 16th, the American Cancer Society sponsors The Great American Smoke Out as a way to get people committed to living a tobacco free life.

When the event first began in the early 1970’s, the message to smokers was to use a specific date to commit to quitting cold turkey. Since then, research has shown that a smoking addiction is an extremely tough one to break and quitting requires a dedicated plan with lots of support to be successful.

That’s not to say that the message around all the benefits to quitting smoking – in terms of health, finances, and quality of life – isn’t getting through. While an estimated 36.5 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, rates have dropped from 42% in 1965 to roughly 15% in 2015.

But smoking continues to be the single largest cause of preventable disease and premature death in the world.

I speak as a former smoker. But instead of listing all the ways you can quit smoking – you already know those - I’m going to talk about all the great stock image ideas you can come up with that supports the stop smoking concept.

Being Prepared

They say that success when quitting smoking is more likely when the smoker makes a plan. So show the plan in formation including gathering items they may require like that “break in case of emergency” back-up cigarette, or a “danger – quitting smoking in progress” sign on the smokers back, or maybe even the moral support hotline red phone on the ready in case of emergency. Any of these concepts scream stock photo worthy imagery.

The Signs of Withdraw

The obvious image of a smoker trying to quit is the various stages of withdraw. While not pretty in real time, the stages of withdraw make for great pics. Capture the overly aggressive anger, the bouts of hysterical crying, and the range of emotions in between that a smoker in withdraw will show.

Smoking Cessation Aids

From pills to patches, nose sprays to lollipops, science has developed any number of ways to help break the nicotine habit. Some people think e-cigarettes, or vaping, and smokeless tobacco can be a step in the right direction (although they seem to have their own set of problems). Show these tools in use, or try some creativity with the concept of positive/negative reinforcement theory - electroshock anyone? All make great stock photos.

The Relapse

Another great avenue to explore is the quitter in relapse. Here the non-smoker in progress can be seen sneaking out back to grab a few fervor puffs, or just taking drag from a friends cigarette on the down low in the bar, or bumming smokes off of strangers on the street – the smoker suffering a step backwards is easy to spot in pictures.

Then look on the bright side of things

As a 10 years non-smoker, I know there are many benefits to finally kicking the habit. To capture the successful ex-smoker, take images that focus on the positive side of quitting.

That small thing called breathing – create images that contrast smokers vs. nonsmokers doing simple tasks like climbing stairs or running errands without having to stop to catch their breath.

Exercise becomes easier so show the nonsmoker running a marathon with their smoking counterpart standing wishfully on the sidelines.

Nonsmokers can now have pearly white teeth and an award-winning smile while those still puffing away have to deal with stained teeth and bad breath.

Smokers smell like smokers. Illustrate the cloud of smoke following current smokers versus the clean air around one whose quit.

Smoking is expensive, so show how the nonsmoker has more money in their wallet while the smoker is still doling out more and more cash for their habit.

Nonsmokers can stay in the moment instead of running out for a smoke – so show the smoker standing outside while their friends are inside enjoying their meal or cocktail. Throw in a good rainstorm or some cold and snow for effect.

And the list goes on and on. Get creative with all the stages of smoking from current to quitting, relapsing to finally enjoying a smoke free life.

But on a serious note .....

If you are a smoker and ready to quit – YOU GO!

If you are a smoker and thinking of quitting – YOU CAN DO IT!

If you are a smoker and think you can’t quit – BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

If you are a smoker and want us all to go away – WHEN YOU'RE READY!

If you are a non-smoker already – CONGRATULATIONS!

Wherever you fall on the smoking spectrum, just be sure to grab some great pictures along the way.

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This article has been read 389 times. Photo credits: Karen Foley.