Maui County Tobacco-Free
Beaches and Parks PSA
Beaches and Parks PSA
The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, a program of the Hawaii Public Health Institute (HPHI), works to create a healthier environment through prevention and education efforts with a major focus on policy.
In 2014, the coalition successfully passed a county ordinance that made it illegal to use tobacco products in Maui parks, beaches, and recreation facilities. With no initial public education effort, the law unfortunately remained fairly unknown for a number of years–with smokers on parks and beaches feeling blindsided by fines that could be as high as $500 with every infraction. In a bid to increase awareness, HPHI saw an opening in their newest campaign: Breathe Aloha. Breathe Aloha is a large-scale statewide mural campaign started in 2018 that's aimed at educating Hawaiʻi’s youth of the negative impact of vaping and e-cigarette smoking. As a non-profit with limited funding, I happily offered my time and services.
Given some initial direction, the background of the law, the history of HPHI, and HPHI's current brand standards, I immediately got to sketching and building a dream board for the project. I wanted to draw on traditional Hawaiian and Pacific Islander designs and patterns, making something that felt right at home, timeless, and on-point with the messaging.
An early and NECESSARY Change in Direction
It's always a good idea to take a step back from your work and ask yourself some potentially tough questions:
- Am I accurately interpreting the message?
- What about the campaign's tone? Or the actual brand's mission?
- How does my current direction reflect back on the brand as a whole? Does this look lik
- Am I falling into obvious and cliched design (or illustration) trends?
- How does this reflect the local culture and attitudes?
Well, everything felt a bit... off. The style that I'd initially gone with ended up being too playful and mildly caricaturistic. I even felt like the playfulness of this initial direction might be seen as offensive to the target audience. Given the seriousness of the messaging, I decided to go back to the sketch book and throw down a few additional ideas.
Design and Development
I started looking into traditional Hawaiian and Pacific Islander textile designs, tattoo designs, symbology–anything I might be able to draw from! Feeling more confident in this new direction, I circled back on established anti-smoking symbols to see if there was anything additional I could draw from. That's when it hit me! My first sketch, the fairly traditional and cliched image of a cigarette centered inside of a circle with a strike through it. Quick scribbles and a terrible eraser led me to see what I interpreted as ashes–or an island!– directly beneath my cigarette. I kept pushing on that concept, where smokers were treating the island like their own personal ashtray.