Author(s): Melanie Wakefield, Brian R Flay, Mark Nichter, Gary Giovino
This paper reviews empirical studies, encompassing community trials and field experiments, and evaluates government-funded anti-smoking campaigns, ecologic studies of population impact of anti-smoking advertising, and qualitative studies that have examined the effects of anti-smoking advertising on teenagers. We conclude that anti-smoking advertising appears to have more reliable positive effects on those in pre-adolescence or early adolescence by preventing commencement of smoking. It is unclear whether this is due to developmental differences, or is a reflection of smoking experience, or a combination of the two. In addition, it is evident that social group interactions, through family, peer and cultural contexts, can play an important role in reinforcing, denying, or neutralizing potential effects of anti-smoking advertising. Although there is some research to suggest that advertising genres that graphically depict the health effects of smoking, emphasize social norms against smoking, and portray the tobacco industry as manipulative can positively influence teenagers, these findings are far from consistent. Finally, the effects of anti-smoking advertising on youth smoking can be enhanced by the use of other tobacco control strategies, and may be dampened by tobacco advertising and marketing. Overall, the findings of this review indicate that there is no single "recipe" for anti-smoking advertising that leads to reductions in youth smoking. Anti-smoking advertising can influence youth smoking, but whether it does in the context of individual anti-smoking campaigns needs to be the subject of careful evaluation.