Adolescents' Responses to Anti-Tobacco Advertising: Exploring the role of advertisement theme and adolescents' emotional responses and smoking status

Sutfin, Erin Lynne, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
"Reppucci, Ph.D.,", N., Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

Anti-smoking mass media messages can be conveyed in many different ways, including focusing on the long-term health risks of smoking or the more immediate cosmetic consequences, but little evidence exists as to which approach is most effective. This study used a cross-sectional, between subjects experimental design to examine the effects of three thematic approaches used in anti-tobacco ads on 488 adolescents' intentions to smoke. Results suggest that not all anti-tobacco ads are effective. Teens exposed to ads that used a Negative Life Circumstances theme reported lower intentions to smoke than did teens exposed to Control ads. Teens exposed to the Industry Manipulation and Endangering Others thematic strategies did not report different intentions to smoke than did teens exposed to the Control ads. The mechanisms through which the Negative Life Circumstances ads impact teens' intentions to smoke are discussed. This study also examined how teens' smoking status was related to their immediate responses to anti-tobacco advertising. As hypothesized, teens' responses to the ads differed based on their smoking status. Smokers liked the ads less and had less positive thoughts about the ads than did non-smokers or at-risk teens. The hypothesis that smokers would experience a reactance response resulting in an increased desire to smoke when exposed to ads that portrayed smokers negatively was not supported for Negative Life Circumstances ads; however, smokers exposed to Industry Manipulation ads tended to have an increased desire to smoke. The importance of considering teens' iii smoking status when evaluating the effectiveness of anti-tobacco advertising is emphasized. Results from this study suggest that some types of anti-tobacco advertising have a direct and measurable effect on teens' intentions to smoke. Additionally, the findings of this study give direction as to which types of message themes may be most successful with teens. These findings indicate that a mass media campaign focusing on Negative Life Circumstances can be an effective and important component of a tobacco control program aimed at teens.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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