Press Release

Smoking fiend “NICO” returns for new anti-smoking campaign for teens

NICO, the menacing face of smoking is returning to our screens, as part of the Health Promotion Unit at the Department of Health and Children´s new anti-smoking campaign, aimed at the one in five school-going children that smoke.

The campaign was launched today by the Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin, at the premiere screening of the new advertisement which is based on the MTV hit programme, Cribs.

Nico´s Crib is a reminder of the effects that smoking has on young people´s lifestyles and appearance -nicotine-stained teeth, yellow fingers, greying skin and poor energy levels – all attributable to smoking.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister said that the rationale for this type of approach is that in the main, young people are not concerned with long-term health messages.

“We know that eight out of ten adult smokers become addicted in their teens, so it is vital that we continue to address this issue amongst young people and educate them in a way that is relevant to them”.

“Young people are image-conscious and are concerned with what is happening to them right now. Therefore, highlighting the immediate and horrific impact of smoking on skin, hair and teeth, for example, is a much stronger and more meaningful way of highlighting the dangers of smoking”.

“Whilst the Slán Report of 2002 reported a decline in the prevalence of smoking amongst young people, falling from 21% in 1998 to 19% in 2002, there is no acceptable level of tobacco consumption and there is still serious cause for concern”.

“With almost one million smokers in Ireland, the trends are still worrying and Slán highlighted that 15-17 year old males, as a group, is still reporting an increase in smoking levels. Health promotion interventions at an early age can help prevent recruitment and it is imperative that we continue to play a role in educating and informing people in order to work towards a smoke-free society.”

The Minister said that giving up is the single most important thing a smoker can do for their health.

Smoke-Free Carlow

At the launch, the Minister complemented and praised pupils from Carlow´s Borris Vocational School, who are involved in a smoking prevention and education initiative called Smoke-Free Carlow.

The aim of this programme is to delay and prevent the onset of smoking in young people in Co. Carlow. Over 650 pupils have been involved in the project since 1999, which involves all secondary schools in the county. The rationale of Smoke-Free Carlow was to intervene before attitudes and behaviors in relation to smoking were developed and to support the children during the critical transition years from primary school to secondary school, a time when many experiment with smoking.

NICO´S Crib

The new advertisement features Nico as the latest special guest in a mock episode of the MTV show Cribs. It is obvious that Nico has become rich from selling his tobacco products. He appears sophisticated and suave, but as reality unfolds, we see that Nico is unhealthy, exploitative, addictive and potentially lethal.

He is unapologetic for his actions as he says; “Hi, I´m Nico. Welcome to my Crib. I´ve made a fortune selling my products to everyone. People just keep coming back for more.”

During a tour of his ´Crib´, Nico introduces us to his friends. The guys and girls are breathless, listless with stained fingers and dull skin and hair. They are hanging out with Nico, but no one looks happy. Nico comments; “These are just some of my crew. They love hanging out, and I encourage them to use my stuff!”

At the close of the advert, Nico invites us to “Come back for more . . . anytime” as he smiles threateningly into the camera and the strapline concludes; There´s nothing cool about smoking.

Nico´s Crib is the second Nico ad to be produced for the Health Promotion Unit at the Department of Health and children. The first campaign (2000) won the Golden and Silver Apple Awards for television and print in London and was the most recalled poster campaign in Ireland for the three years between 2000 – 2003.

Minister´s Speech