Stopping before starting

Smoking rates for women in many African countries are really low – it’s never been something they really do. But now, among teenagers, that’s changing fast – we’re seeing a dramatic rise in the number of girls taking up smoking.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has tasked us with developing and running a multi-intervention social marketing campaign to help stop this growing change in teen behaviour, and write a different end to the story.

First stop Botswana, where since February 2014 we have established the most popular teen brand in the country: SKY Girls. SKY is all about helping girls ‘stay true’ to themselves and what they believe in – it inspires girls to express what they do and don’t want in their lives and to have the confidence to stick to these choices.

Smoking fits within this – as we know most teens don’t want to try smoking, they feel pressured into it – but SKY is about much more than that. And because it’s increasingly girl-led, it lives in their world.

One year in and SKY’s free magazine is read by around 100,000 girls, the Facebook page has 40,000 fans and every week receives hundreds of new comments from girls saying SKY is inspiring them to stay true to themselves, feel more confident, and say ‘no’ to smoking.