[Post B] Stop Before You Start

(Image Source: Stop Before You Start)

New Zealand’s Stop Before You Start campaign is a project with roots in decades of government anti-smoking messaging, and an important step in moving toward a smoke free New Zealand in 2025.

Decreasing the smoking rate has been a challenge for countries around the globe since tobacco was scientifically proven to have links with cancers, heart disease and other health risks in 1954 (American Cancer Society 2014). In order to understand why the Stop Before You Start campaign is so notable for New Zealand, first we must skim through history of anti-smoking action. Cigarette advertising was banned in New Zealand in 1990 (Gendall et al 2016). Shortly after that, the first anti-smoking commercial was released. Over the past three decades, these campaigns have progressed from targeting the larger smoker audience to narrower demographics as the smoking rate decreased (Gendall et al 2016).

The economic principle of abatement justifies the shift. It supposes that the longer an intervention goes on, the more expensive it will be to stop another person stop smoking. Early interventions might have lowered smoking use in some categories, but those who are glued to the cigarettes are going to need a lot more targeted attention than television commercials.

Reaching a point of saturation in adults provided a problem and opportunity for the Health Protection Authority; while youth smoking was decreasing, there was still a high rate of young people trying cigarettes and these people were now the key source of new smokers. (Li et al. 2016)

Thus, they had a user for whom they could begin designing their intervention. HPA started to engage with the 14-15 year old demographic to understand their exposure to cigarettes. It became clear that young adults were anxious about what their future held, that they were heavily influenced by friends and were beginning to be exposed to cigarettes in a social setting. (Li et al. 2016)

The creative solution that encompassed all these insights became the Stop Before You Start campaign. The campaign was centred around an anti-smoking mascot, (similar to a popular solution proposed by John Oliver), who’s characteristics and mannerisms were gross and unappealing. As relationships are a big issue in adolescence, HPA decided to use the mascot to satirise the relationship that someone develops with cigarettes (HPA 2016). All clips were filmed in locations where young people are likely to be exposed to cigarettes, which would trigger memories of the advertisements when they reengaged that environment (HPA 2016). Casting the actors as young adults envisaged a realistic, undesirable future for current teenagers (HPA 2016).

Gather results from the campaign, HPA found that the it was a resounding success. 85% of their demographic recalled the advertisements, 45% regretted taking up smoking after watching it, 33% make an effort not to smoke socially and the sentiment that smoking is ‘disgusting’ in the age group rose from 65% to 74% (Li et al. 2016). But as with any design solution in a complex problem space, there is no silver bullet solution. Anti-smoking messaging will need to continue, amongst a raft of other efforts to make New Zealand smoke free by 2025.


American Cancer Society, 2014, The study that helped spur the US stop smoking movement, American Cancer Society, viewed 12 December 2017, <https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/the-study-that-helped-spur-the-us-stop-smoking-movement.html&gt;

Gendall, P., Hoek, J., Richard, E., Glantz, S., 2016 ‘Effect of exposure to smoking in movies on young adult smoking in New Zealand’, PLOS One.

Li, J., Guiney, H., Walton, D., 2016, ‘Evidence for a young adult-targeted tobacco control campaign stimulation cessation-related responses among adult smokers and recent quitters’, New Zealand Medical Journal, vol. 129.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, 2015, Tobacco, video recording, Youtube, viewed 13 December 2017, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UsHHOCH4q8&gt;

HPA, 2016, Stop Before You Start, HPA, viewed 13 December 2017, <https://www.hpa.org.nz/stop-before-you-start&gt;


[Post D] Smart Consumption: The Banana Leaf

(Image source: Platterform)

Banana leaves are multipurpose tools that play an integral role in Indonesian culture. A native plant, banana trees make up a large portion of Indonesia’s agricultural sector and have an important influence in both Indonesian culinary traditions, and their ability to live sustainably.

Indonesian cuisine adopts the banana leaf in multiple methods of cooking (Forshee 2006). Meat and fish are often wrapped in a leaf before they are steamed, grilled or boiled. The waxy outer layer provides protection from the flame and adds a smoky flavour to the meat encased within it.

(source: Om Paramapoonya

The leaves also serve as a tool for wrapping and serving food. Sweets like barongko and getuk pisang are often served in banana leaves and it isn’t common for the leaves to replace (or reclaim) the role of a plate, allow people to eat from it, providing a culinary experience that places the eater closer to the food they are eating (Forshee 2006).

But more than food, the use of banana leaves reveals an interesting perspective on Indonesia’s approach to consumption. Where in Australia, the culture is to only value ripe and aesthetic bananas, Indonesia places more of an importance on using the whole banana plant (Kosuke et al 2013).

Map revealing the key areas of banana production in Indonesia

This ideology stems from the fact that bananas are interwoven with Indonesian history and culture. Bananas are native to the equatorial areas of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and records dating as far back as the 8th century show Indonesians farming banana plants (Dove 2011). Before colonial trade structures, with less variety of plants and crops, the Indonesian people met their needs with the resources they had available (Dove 2011). Banana leaves, with their naturally waxy coat, could be easily cleaned and used to wrap food for transport and preservation (Kosuke et al 2013).

When it comes to sustainable living, the banana leaf provided a clever way for Indonesia to live within their means when it came to packaging. The banana leaf was sourced as a by-product from an abundant crop, a lesson in how to use all of something to reduce waste (Kima Surf 2017). In doing this, there was no need to consume other materials to complete the tasks that the banana leaf could do.

Modern Banana Leaf packaging (source: Nanyang Technological University)

This is a stark contrast to the post-plastic Indonesia of today that’s infrastructure and environment struggle under the strain of the increasing plastic burden. While banana leaves only takes a few weeks to compose, plastic takes generations, transforming the simple task of transporting your lunch in a safe way into an intergenerational waste problem (Kima Surf 2017). “And for what?” is the question the future generations will ask their Indonesian predecessors. “It seems like we had it pretty well covered with banana leaves”.


Dove, M., 2001, Banana Tree at the Gate, Yale University Press.

Forshee, J., 2006, Culture and customs of Indonesia, Greenwood Publishing Group.

Kima Surf, 2017, From banana leaves to plastic bags, Seminyak, viewed 6 December 2017, < https://kimasurf.com/sustainability/&gt;

Kosuke, M., Mugniesyah, S.S., Herianto, A.S., Hiroshi, T., 2013, ‘Talun-Huma, Swidden Agriculture, and Rural Economy in West Java, Indonesia’, Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 2, pp. 351-381.

Platterform, 2017, Archive, London, viewed 6 December 2017, < http://www.platterform.com/toko-indonesian-kitchen-bar-deli/&gt;.

Paramapoonya, O., 2015, Cooking with Banana Leaves, viewed 6 December 2017, <https://hubpages.com/food/Cooking-with-Banana-Leaves&gt;.