Design as activism project

Anti Smoking


To come up with an interesting idea we started right at the beginning, sharing our interests with the group and anything that stood out to us that was happening in the world today. As students we found that social smoking was something we come across everyday, so we started to brainstorm on how it affects us and how we could approach making a campaign around it. We discovered that there were two main ways we could go, the first would be to target the older generation and how smoking doesn’t just affect them but their families too. The second approach would be to target children, showing them the effects of smoking on their organs and how bad it is for your health.

We had the idea to create an animation of a Polaroid picture showing a significant life event burning away. The animation would start off slowly, showing the intensity of the burning and then it would reverse the whole process quickly showing you that it is possible to save those important moments by not smoking. This idea quickly developed into the idea of smoke as a metaphor and how your body is damaged over time. As a group we decided that this would be a good idea as it’s more of an encouraging than discouraging force.

Another idea we had that I thought was very successful ,was the idea of having an important life event being filmed, for example a wedding video and the screen would gradually fill with smoke, the sounds would become more distorted the colours would darken and everything would become dark and hard to watch. The smoke would represent how smoking blinds you from what’s important in life and makes your future more uncertain. To go with this idea we could have a set of posters that would include a distorted text, possibly covered in smoke, making it hard to read.

Another idea for our ephemera was to have a handmade cigarette box, that would have encouraging messages from previous smokers inside. The box would be labelled with the message ‘You are not alone’, sharing other people’s experiences, explaining how hard it can be to quit. However, after discussing our ideas with our tutor they started to sound really predictable and as a group we decided that it’s important to take a different approach.

We then started to discuss how we could go about creating an anti smoking campaign, to show children the effects of smoking on the body/lifestyle.  I really liked this idea  as it’s different to most smoking adverts that target people who are already smoking. I think it will be interesting to teach children about the effects because they grow up understanding what smoking can do. According to the Cancer Research UK website, 3% of children under the age of 16 regularly smoke in the UK, 18% have said that they have tried smoking and 40% of them have said they are regular smokers who began smoking before age 16.

For the animation we had an idea to create  colourful animated organs, each organ would have a happy expression on their face. We would then design grey smoke bubbles gradually travelling through the body, turning the colourful organs grey and black as they passed. The  organs’ expressions would then become sad and some of them could be melting away or shrinking.


How does smoking affect the body 

I decided to do some research into the effects smoking has on different parts of the body. I took into consideration that this would be an animation for children, so I’ve narrowed it down and picked out the less graphic matters that would be less sensitive to them.

  • Mouth and Throat – Stained teeth, Bad breath.
  • Bones – Makes them weak and brittle.
  • Lungs – Low immune system, destruction of the tissue (turning black and shrivelling), heavy breathing, less active.
  • Brain – Bulging blood vessels.
  • Circulation – Makes your blood thicker, increases blood clots, increases your blood pressure and heart rate, narrows your arteries reducing the amount of oxygen reaching your organs.
  • Heart – heart attacks, blood clots.
  • Stomach – ulcers, weakens the muscle, acid can travel the wrong way, facial wrinkling around the eyes and mouth, yellow/grey complexion, yellow nails, hollow cheeks.

Information from NHS website.



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