NHS Blackpool: Illicit tobacco

Now that we have increased awareness of illicit tobacco how can we trigger a normative shift?

Building on a pan-regional intervention developed by The Hub to raise awareness of the dangers of illicit tobacco, our team began to explore more direct approaches by piloting community-based interventions in Blackpool and Salford.

Social norms

Both the evidence base and our own direct experience showed that the sale, purchase and consumption of illicit tobacco are deeply ingrained behaviours, embedded in community culture and social norms.

A foundation of awareness

Following independent evaluation of our ‘Get Some Answers’ awareness campaign (see separate case study), we could be confident that the foundations were in place to implement more direct triggers and measures to initiate normative shift.

After mapping the localities to identify priority intervention points, we developed two distinct approaches. This allowed us to respond to the specific needs of each locality, but also to maximise learning by comparing the processes and outcomes of each approach.

A localised response

In Blackpool, a series of workshops were conducted with community members and intermediaries, such as maternity health trainers. These sessions were vital elements in the development of a truly localised response.

Community activists

These sessions were also leveraged to galvanise teams of community activists who would go on to receive training and support to diffuse influence throughout their respective networks. In Salford, we collaborated with an existing social enterprise already undertaking community engagement work in the area. This approach allowed us to leverage relationships already in place and build on existing community assets.


In addition to measurable attitudinal shifts within the target population, this project resulted in distinct attitudinal and behavioural change amongst the citizens engaged by community activists.


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