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DVA 2016: Cradle Cincinnati Maternal Anti-Smoking Campaign

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Every year in Hamilton County, Ohio too many babies die before their first birthday. The county, which includes Cincinnati, ranks among the worst in the nation for infant mortality. Cradle Cincinnati is an organization dedicated to reduce infant mortality - and Deskey is their lead communications firm. Together they launched a marketing campaign to reduce the rate at which pregnant women smoke, as smoking during pregnancy is linked to preterm birth, the leading cause of infant mortality.

While there are no shortages of anti-smoking messages in the public arena, they were not reaching a prime target audience - low income African American women, a community that experiences challenges such as extreme poverty, homelessness, and navigating government assistance.

Deskey’s research revealed that they suffer from daily “micro-aggressions” across a broad spectrum of sources, resulting in brain behavior similar to PTSD or combat fatigue. These women were not receiving anti-smoking messages, and psychologically their brains were not processing them.

Research also revealed that these women are strong, stronger than the community gives them credit for. Deskey thought it was time to remind them that they are mighty, and that the community believes in them–that they are “queens”. The campaign launched across public transit advertising, billboards, health clinics, social media and an award winning 15 second radio transit recording. They even made over a health clinic waiting room for expectant mothers.

The data is extremely compelling:

  • The number of calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW went up 33%+ specifically among pregnant
  • The county saw a 10.6% drop in maternal smoking and a 10.2% drop in preterm births
  • Hamilton County saved $275,600 in medical costs for preterm babies whose early birth was related to cigarette smoking

With these exceptional results Deskey and Cradle Cincinnati hope to secure funding for expanded future efforts.



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PUBLISHED: Barriers, Supports, and Celebration of Good Design (Volume Vol. 27, No. 4) 2016


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