Introduction Young adults in the military are aggressively targeted by tobacco companies and are at high risk of tobacco use. Existing antismoking advertisements developed for the general population might be effective in educating young adults in the military. This study evaluated the effects of different themes of existing antismoking advertisements on perceived harm and intentions to use cigarettes and other tobacco products among Air Force trainees.
Methods In a pretest–post-test experiment, 782 Airmen were randomised to view antismoking advertisements in 1 of 6 conditions: anti-industry, health effects+anti-industry, sexual health, secondhand smoke, environment+anti-industry or control. We assessed the effect of different conditions on changes in perceived harm and intentions to use cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookah and cigarillos from pretest to post-test with multivariable linear regression models (perceived harm) and zero-inflated Poisson regression model (intentions).
Results Antismoking advertisements increased perceived harm of various tobacco products and reduced intentions to use. Advertisements featuring negative effects of tobacco on health and sexual performance coupled with revealing tobacco industry manipulations had the most consistent pattern of effects on perceived harm and intentions.
Conclusions Antismoking advertisements produced for the general public might also be effective with a young adult military population and could have spillover effects on perceptions of harm and intentions to use other tobacco products besides cigarettes. Existing antismoking advertising may be a cost-effective tool to educate young adults in the military.
- Advertising and Promotion
- Non-cigarette tobacco products
- Priority/special populations
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Contributors LP, RCK, PML, SAG, MVM and GWT planned the study. BDL led the data collection. ZB conducted data analysis. MAL contributed to data analysis, interpretation and writing. LP wrote the initial draft and submitted the manuscript. All authors contributed to the writing and revision and approved the final version of the manuscript.
Funding Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (HL095784, PI: Klesges) and National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (R01-CA141661, PI: Ling; K99CA187460, PI: Popova; and R01-CA-061021, PI: Glantz).
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center Institutional Review Board.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.