Don’t Wait


“Don’t Wait” first launched in June 2020 as part of regional efforts encouraging smokers to Quit for Covid. 

It delivered a hard-hitting plea by NHS respiratory consultant and North East and North Cumbria Clinical Lead for Tobacco Dr Ruth Sharrock for smokers to stop and reduce the risk of lung damage, weakened immune system, cancer, heart attack, diabetes and stroke – as well as making symptoms of coronavirus more severe.

Since 2020 the Don’t Wait campaign has featured two further adverts on TV and catch up TV with a “harm” and “hope” approach and a suite of assets for partners to communicate the risks of smoking and benefits of quitting. 

A key driving insight is that most smokers have tried to quit before but many worry the damage is already done. Many also fear the quitting process as being too stressful.

The campaign addresses this barrier in urging smokers not to wait and “it is never too late” to stop – no matter how many years you’ve smoked, outlining how the body heals itself.

Never too late

Breaking terrible news


Don’t Wait is one of the most successful campaigns Fresh has run in terms of both actions taken and responses online. Evaluation in 2020 found:

51% recalled the campaign, with TV advertising having the highest recall, and of those

  • 87% found it easy to understand
  • 90% said it carried an important message
  • 74% of smokers were more concerned about their smoking
  • 68% said it made them want to try to quit more than they had previously

81% of smokers who saw it did something as a result. This means 2 out of 5 smokers in total did something and 1 in 6 successfully quit or reduced smoking.

And over 1/3 were asked to quit by someone else – suggesting that it also helped mobilise communities.