While hipster haters may delight in the pejorative pigeonholing of beard-festooned, flannel-loving millennials, some anti-tobacco researchers have analyzed, categorized and targeted this population not to condemn them, but to get them to quit smoking.
In San Francisco, as part of a new initiative aiming to reduce the incidence and mortality rate of residents with common cancers, researchers have begun creating Facebook smoking cessation groups under the banner of a “brand” created specifically for the hipster community.
The groups are an extension of research funded by the National Cancer Institute on how to boost the impact of public anti-smoking campaigns in the face of the overpowering marketing know-how of big tobacco companies.
Young adults are the focus because the tobacco industry has long set its sights on turning them into customers. Somewhat successfully, it turns out. In California, for instance, 21-29-year-olds smoke at a higher rate than any other age group, and while there has been a drop in smoking overall, the reduction among 20-somethings has lagged.
In an attempt to get the drop in the young adult smoking rate moving again, Dr. Pamela Ling of the University of California, San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education has been working with the Rescue marketing agency of San Diego to establish an anti-smoking brand called “Commune,” specifically targeting the nation's ample supply of hipsters.
What the brand is “selling” is the desire not to smoke.