Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now
  • Health & Medicine

Cancer Research UK encourages young people to stand up against tobacco industry

The Cancer Research UK logo
by Cancer Research UK | News

10 February 2016

0 comments 0 comments

Cancer Research UK today announced the launch of a social media campaign, #coughup, which aims to empower young people (16-24 year olds) to stand up against the tobacco industry and make them pay for the damage they cause. 

“Everyone has a choice about what they put into their body, but we need to be more conscious of the huge influence the tobacco industry has.” – Suli Breaks

The four-week anti-tobacco campaign, created by youth agency, Livity, centers around a creative piece of video content featuring world-renowned spoken word artist Suli Breaks, and highlights the grave injustice of the massive profits made by the tobacco industry, along with the financial burden the industry places on our society (e.g. financial impact on the NHS, illness and lost days at work).

  • Tobacco companies make an equivalent profit of almost £4,000 for every death they cause
  • In the UK, the tobacco industry needs to recruit 100,000 new smokers each year to replace those who die
  • The tobacco industry makes more money than McDonalds, Coca Cola and Microsoft combined

Suli Breaks commented on his involvement: “Everyone has a choice about what they put into their body, but we need to be more conscious of the huge influence the tobacco industry has. They created this product, and continue to sell it, despite knowing it kills up to two in three of long term users. They have become pretty good at staying out of the limelight, so it’s great to be able to support this campaign and help raise awareness of this injustice.”

The campaign urges young people to make the tobacco industry pay for the damage they cause by sharing the content and signing a petition to actively demonstrate their support. The petition demands the government impose a £500 million levy or tax on the tobacco industry’s market share in the UK.

Abigail Brown, Head of Health Marketing at Cancer Research UK, commented: “We hope the campaign strikes a chord with young people and inspires them to stand up for themselves and their future. By taking a stand against the corporate power of the tobacco industry and pledging support to make them pay for the damage they cause, young people will be directly contributing to efforts to reduce the economic impact of this industry on our society”.

If successful, the levy would be used to secure funding for gold standard stop smoking services, mass media campaigns to help people quit, and to tackle the illicit trade in tobacco.

The #coughup campaign has been created and implemented by Livity using their tried and tested co-creation approach of consulting with young people throughout the entire creative and decision making process.

Abigail Brown said: “We chose Livity for their understanding of youth audiences and more specifically for their compelling, to the point, ‘non-worthy’ creative approach to the brief.”

Alex Goat, Managing Director of Livity added: “This campaign for Cancer Research UK aims to shine a light on corporations who strive to recruit young people into smoking to replace their customers who die each year from smoking related diseases.  Our ambition is to create a sense of collective empowerment against the tobacco industry, by encouraging young people to sign the petition and make their voice heard.”


For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK Press Office on 0203 469 8315 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.