Lessons Learned From Smoking Can Help Fight COVID

How to Overcome Vaccine Resistance and Understand Misleading Surveys
WASHINGTON - May 6, 2021 - PRLog -- A new paper suggests that "We have (nearly) forgotten what we learned from the anti-smoking campaigns of the sixties and seventies," and that some of the lessons from those very successful efforts could also help with the current pandemic.

Professor Jeffrey E. Harris writes that what we learned from the antismoking messages, and helped persuade millions to quit smoking, could help us fashion messages which are more effective in persuading adults to get vaccinated.

He also suggests why surveys, which already show many people unwilling to be vaccinated, may vastly underestimate that percentage, and how social ostracism and isolation - which helped pressure many Americans to become nonsmokers - can likewise play a role in pressuring adults to become vaccinated.

Harris suggests that using a review of which themes in anti-smoking messages were most effective in actually changing behaviors could be used to make today's pro-vaccine messages most effective.

He notes that messages "combining trust in healthcare providers with peer influence" were very effective, and suggests using, as one example:

"3,000,000 Doctors and Nurses Have Already Had the COVID-19 Vaccine - YOU CAN TOO"

Another important lesson learned from fighting smoking is that survey results about "socially undesirable" behaviors may be unreliable, and should not be trusted in making important policy decisions.

Finally, Harris suggests that many who are initially reluctant to get vaccinated will yield when they find themselves increasingly isolated; as smokers did beginning in the 1970s when law professor Banzhaf and others spread the word about the deadly dangers of secondhand smoke, and used legal action and legislation to ban smoking in most work places and places of public assembly.

Similarly, predicts Banzhaf, those without proof that they have been vaccinated who increasingly find themselves unable to attend sporting events, concerts, and perhaps even to go to popular restaurants, and/or who work for employers who insist that workers be vaccinated, will find, as smokers did, that social isolation - perhaps eventually extending to poker games, book club meetings, cocktail parties, and other private social gatherings - will find that the social isolation and exclusions force them to join the growing majority in becoming vaccinated to protect the health of those around them.

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