Anti-Smoking Ads Affect Youth Behavior-US Study
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Younger adolescents who are regularly exposed to anti-smoking messages on television are half as likely to start smoking as those not exposed, a study released on Tuesday found.
The study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health followed children in the state of Massachusetts for four years starting in 1993, the same year the state launched its anti-smoking advertising campaign.
A second study in the same journal found that teen-agers who could name a cigarette brand as having attracted their attention the most and owned a tobacco-sponsored promotion item, such as a sun visor or sports bag, were more than twice as likely to become established smokers.
Both studies were funded by the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
``Both show that advertising techniques are effective whether you're trying to promote tobacco use or prevent it,'' said Michael Seigel, associate professor at Boston University School of Public Health and lead author of the study on anti-smoking advertising.
``These are the first long-term studies to investigate the effects of pro-tobacco and anti-smoking advertising, tracking the same group of teen-agers over a four-year period,'' Siegel said.
To test the anti-smoking media campaign, Seigel and researcher Lois Biener compared the tendency to start smoking between youths who either recalled or failed to recall exposure to anti-smoking messages on television, radio and billboard advertisements.
Based on 1993 telephone interviews with 592 teen-agers who had not yet smoked 100 cigarettes and 1997 follow-up calls, slightly more than 25 percent of teen-agers had become established smokers.
Those who were 12 or 13 years old in 1993, who could recall the anti-smoking campaign on television, were half as likely to have become smokers as those who could not recall the ads.
Recall of the anti-smoking television advertisements had no significant effect on progression to established smoking in those who were ages 14 to 15 in 1993.
``This may indicate that older adolescents are resistant to anti-smoking messages or that they have already established strong attitudes toward smoking,'' Siegel said in a statement.
In the second study on tobacco advertising and its effect on smoking initiation, Biener and Siegel tracked 529 adolescents who had never smoked or at most had experimented with one cigarette.
Children who owned a tobacco-branded item and who readily named a cigarette brand as attention-getting were labeled ''highly receptive,'' those who either owned an item or named a brand were scored as ``moderately receptive'' and those who did neither were considered to have little receptivity to tobacco advertising.
When the same group was re-interviewed in 1997, 21 percent overall had become established smokers.
Forty-six percent of those who had been classified as highly receptive had become smokers, compared with only 18 percent of the moderately receptive group and 14 percent of the low-receptivity group.