Anti-Smoking Campaigns in KSA


I’ve always wondered whether these campaigns do actually work. How many have quit smoking after seeing an anti-smoking poster or video? Most of the world probably knows that smoking is bad  for health, but we still do it anyways. According to the Anti-Smoking Society, in Saudi Arabia alone, 22,000 die of smoking related diseases every year. Smoking has become the arch enemy of many, and so many are fighting it even though it seems to be a losing battle. But before you invest so much money in a concept, shouldn’t you understand your target audience first? We’ve seen so many anti-smoking ads, but very few stand out because they were well designed, and only a couple because of the concept.

I think posters like the two below (2007) probably haven’t made a big difference, although the photo manipulation is impressive compared to other things we used to see in Saudi at that time. I do have a few points regarding the execution though. No cigarette has that much ash on it. It always falls off, which is why the ashtray was invented! Come to think of it, maybe it would’ve been more interesting to see the city and the people in an ashtray. Another thing is that the people are burned and yet they don’t look too bothered by it. Overall, the execution makes it seem like they’re saying “The Ashes are Building Cities” rather than, “You Are Burning Yourself and Your Country” (literal translation).

Any educated smoker knows that the smoke they’re exhaling is harmful to the environment and people around them, so what makes you think they’ll care when you tell them that the money spent on tobacco could have built 150 schools, 80 hospitals, etc.? I’m not saying smokers are bad and selfish people. I’m just saying that most people generally don’t want to be bothered with the wellbeing of the rest of the world. Let’s face it; it’s not everyday that you come across a person that is *public-spirited*.

"Life is Priceless. Don't Smoke it Away."

Is that the Jeddah water desalination plant? What are you trying to say??!

There was another initiative by Drive Communication on May 2007. “The agency has launched an anti smoking competition entitled Creative “Anti Smoking” competition aimed at attracting young creatives to participate in the fight against smoking. The winning campaign has been published in Al Hayat Newspaper.” (from

I must say that the photography is interesting, and the concept is new to me. However, I can’t seem to find the objective anywhere to be able to judge whether this actually works in my opinion or not. I don’t get it. Do you?

I do however like the concept behind this poster for World No Tobacco Day (2008), despite the fact that it’s not very well-designed. Why are the hands and the slogan small? Since the hands are the focal point, they definitely need to be larger. Very few people do understand sign language and will eventually have to read the slogan at the bottom left, so I like how small the slogan is, but not liking where it was placed. I think giving the hands a white fill would’ve made them a stronger element.

So, if these posters didn’t work, why not quit smoking and your wedding expenses are on us? I’m serious! Read “Free Wedding for Quitting Smoking” on BBC News (2009). I couldn’t find a larger image unfortunately. But it’s a very simple banner with what seems to be an illustration of a Saudi man and a woman in a wedding dress. The woman’s face is covered by the veil though. Coincidence?? This might have worked with some people, but as explained in the article, some people found it “sexist.”

"Kicking the habit is on you, and marriage is on us."

It seems that this is a battle that will be going on forever, or at least until a time comes where smoking is the least threatening compared to other things. I was inspired to write about this after watching a video by FullStop, an award winning local agency that has become famous for its awareness videos and campaigns. You might be able to see the video here. It was created for Smoke Free Generation, “a new anti smoking initiative targeting the teens to help prevent them from smoking even before they start. We are kicking it off with TV and taking it to to a new level.” -Kaswara Al-Khatib, founder of FullStop.

To conclude, this is what I think about anti smoking campaigns, and what I would personally like to see in future campaigns.

You might like these ads from around the world

Gets to me more than the others


About Soraya

Lazy artist that can write and take pictures. Initiator of Casual Art Talk (2011), Founder of Onqoud (2012) Embracing art and culture!
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3 Responses to Anti-Smoking Campaigns in KSA

  1. Rezan Gassas says:

    Hi Soraya
    it was fun reading this post. I was just talking with my husband about the anti smoking campaigns in saudi yesterday after we saw the new full stop ad.

    I loved the tagline “i7reg galbak” and the execution of the entire ad was flawless in the filming and art direction but the concept??? I saw two attractive looking couple. the direction made them look attractive and clean and beautiful. The act of smoking looked like a very fun classy thing to do, i was surprised to see that the twist was in the heart in the ash tray. For me personally it wasn’t strong enough, and i feel it will actually look inviting for non smokers or younger audiences to like how it looks.
    At the end this is how i am seeing it as a graphic designer with experience in advertising. I loved the level of production that saudi filmmakers are producing the videos. and full stop has always been surprising us with new interesting ideas and concepts, thats why i was disappointed with the beating ashtray.

    As of the Drive Communication creative competition ads. They were targeted to creatives to design anti smoking ads. I think it does work because its targeting creatives, its not an actual anti smoking ads. My opinion might be biased as i am a former Drive employee LOL

    Looking forward to new posts!
    Best Regards,

    • Soraya says:

      Hi Rezan,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this post. It means so much to me! 😀 It’s been challenging getting feedback from people in this field.
      I really enjoyed reading your feedback! 🙂

      Thank you for your support dear


  2. Clam Soup says:

    I’m looking for someone to place this song for me …. my attempts to quit smoking.

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