The Inhalant Campaign
The Inhalant Campaign
By 1995, inhalant abuse among young teens was reaching “epidemic” proportions in America. Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects.
There are literally hundreds of legal household products on the market that can be isused as inhalants. Examples of products kids abuse to get high include model airplane glue, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, hair spray, gasoline, the propellant in aerosol whipped cream, spray paint, fabric protector, air conditioner fluid (freon), cooking spray and correction fluid, just to name a few.
These products are sniffed, snorted, bagged (fumes inhaled from a plastic bag), or “huffed” (inhalant-soaked rag, sock, or roll of toilet paper in the mouth) by children to achieve a high. Inhalants are also sniffed directly from the container.
The Partnership had never included inhalants in its public service messages until data pointed to a need and experts in the field of substance abuse asked The Partnership
to create advertising to help reduce inhalant abuse.
Based on research, including University of Michigan’s “Monitoring the Future” study, that clearly shows that the likelihood of using a drug is directly affected by how dangerous its use is perceived to be, The Partnership launched a television campaign in the spring of 1995 to help reduce inhalant abuse by increasing awareness of the dangers of using inhalants.
An important challenge for the advertising was to not arouse the natural curiosity of adolescents. The Partnership was careful not to promote inhalant abuse in any way or to educate kids how to use inhalants. None of the ads that could be seen by children showed products that could be inhaled and none of the work showed inhalants being abused.
Results from The Partnership Attitudinal Tracking Study (PATS) indicated that as a result of the Inhalant Campaign, significant progress had been made in the effort to reduce inhalant abuse among adolescents and teens.
- Significant positive changes in the attitude relating the dangers of inhalant abuse occurred from 1995 to 1996 among teens and from 1993 to 1996 among pre-teens. (Significant changes were at the .05 level).
- Perception of risk of inhalant abuse increased significantly among teens (grades 7 – 12).
- The percent of teens who agreed strongly with the statement, “Sniffing or huffing things to get high can kill you” significantly increased from 64 percent in 1995 to 67 percent in 1996.
- Past year use of inhalants decreased significantly among teens from 16 percent in 1995 to 14 percent in 1996.
- Perception of risk increased significantly among pre-teens (grades 4 – 6).
- In 1993, 58 percent of pre-teens rated inhalants as “very dangerous,” in 1996 the percent increased to 62 percent.
In 1997, the New York chapter of the American Marketing Association presented The Partnership, Fitzgerald & Co. and Jack Levy Associates with advertising’s most coveted award – the Gold “EFFIE” – for the effectiveness of its national, anti-drug public service advertising campaign.
"I developed a much higher respect for social marketing by seeing the value and complexity of this function which seemed very ambiguous to me before."— Student at Boston College after AEF sent speakers from DigitasLBi