David vs. Goliath
The expert initiative DON’T SMOKE facing strong lobbies

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A cross media campaign that led to new non-smoker protection legislation in Austria

In Austria, every hour a person dies because of smoking. And three persons per day die because of passive smoking. Those facts were a main impulse for a group of leading physicians to start the expert initiative DONT’T SMOKE: To create more visibility for the devastating consequences of smoking and contribute to a substantial change. A big challenge – because in the past, similar activities did not succeed.

Comprehensive awareness raising effort

Led by the Austrian society for haematology and medical oncology and its chairman Univ.-Prof. Dr. Hellmut Samonigg, asoluto created a comprehensive information and awareness raising campaign, starting on September 29, 2014. Note: Even with a very limited budget – or actually because of this –, accurate strategic planning and a high professional level in implementation were crucial.

Martin Verdino, Brigitte Mühlbauer und Helmut Samonigg

Branding – bringing the message to the point

asoluto developed the brand DON’T SMKOKE and made it a symbol for identification. It is a call to action and went into everyday language. No wonder that at the peak of the campaign, many media talked about a „DON’T SMOKE debate“.

The website – connecting platform for all activities and channels

dontsmoke.at not only provides the main facts and political demands. It also mobilized the public by involving some 80 famous local celebrities and by giving visibility to the support of high-ranking politicians. Let figures talk: appr. 130.000 visitors made more than 320.000 page visits between October 2014 and spring 2015.

More than 43.000 signatures for online petition

The petition on the website collected signatures from private persons, companies, and institutions. Appr. 25% of all website visitors signed the petition, and 10% even left comments. In total, we reached more than 43,000 signatures.

43.214 Unterzeichner und Unterzeichnerinnen
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Broad support from decision makers

Relevant decision makers were addressed directly. A key role played the federal ministry for health and women’s affairs, then led by Sabine Oberhauser who vigorously supported the initiative.

Non-smoker protection had a comeback as a topic

Targeted media relationship management displayed famous journalist Kurt Kuch as a patient suffering from lung cancer as an anchor to the media. The effort paid off: (non)smoking became a topic again. More than 1,200 articles in a very short time span underscore this success.

Social Media – Facebook & Twitter with enormous reach

Additionally, the campaign was spurred by an intensive dialogue on Facebook and a campaign on Twitter. The campaign gained more than 4.000 fans on Facebook within a few weeks, and among Twitter followers were 300 high-profile stakeholders.


Total reach on Facebook in January 2015 was at 141,000.


On Twitter, the highest reach of a tweet peaked at 151,000 persons.


On average, posts of DON’T SMOKE on Facebook showed a reach of 200%.

More than 50 supporting institutions as multipliers

Institutions like the Medical Chamber of Austria, the chamber of pharmacists, and many medical societies acted as valuable multipliers.

Mission accomplished – parliament passed new legislation

The main success was a new legislation that would have been impossible in summer 2014: In June 2015, the Austrian parliament passed a new legislation with strict non-smoker protection regulations.

Smoking kills. It was the worst decision of my life to start smoking. Today I want to contribute to keeping the fatal consequences of smoking in Austria as low as possible. Kurt Kuch 1972-2015, deputy editor-in-chief of NEWS magazine and lung cancer patient
As a young father, I supported the 1980 campaign against smoking. Now I support DON’T SMOKE. Health is a treasure, and we are responsible for us and our fellow humans. Dr. Heinz Fischer, former president of Austria
A comprehensive protection of non-smokers not only requires legislation for smoke-free gastronomy, but also more prevention and conscience building. This is the aim of DON’T SMOKE, and I support this. Dr. Reinhold Mitterlehner, vice chancellor and minister of science, research and economic affairs
Appr. 14,000 persons die in Austria due to smoking, more than 30 times the figure of casualties in traffic. Austria has a smoker rate of 33%, much more than the average in Europe. Thus I support DON’T SMOKE as we need an Image change in Austria for the issue of smoking. Dr.in. Sabine Oberhauser, MAS; former minister of health and women’s affairs
I had been smoking for 30 years – 15 of which were without my consent. I could get free of this habit only when I tried for the 4th time. So: Don’t even try smoking! Robert Palfrader, actor
Of my 41 years, I had been smoking for 26, only because I wanted to be cool as a boy. It was several 100,000 useless cigarettes. But: Stopping is much easier than I thought. Everyone can make it. Dr. Florian Klenk, editor in chief of Falter newspaper
Mag. Brigitte Mühlbauer, Managing Partner Read more about Mag. Brigitte Mühlbauer
+43 1 533 36 53-14
+43 676 619 95 94
DI Martin Verdino, Managing Partner Read more about DI Martin Verdino
+43 1 533 36 53-10
+43 660 533 36 53