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Out of the smokescreen II: will an advertisement targeting the tobacco industry affect young people’s perception of smoking in movies and their intention to smoke?


Objective: To evaluate the effect of an antismoking advertisement on young people’s perceptions of smoking in movies and their intention to smoke.

Subjects/setting: 3091 cinema patrons aged 12–24 years in three Australian states; 18.6% of the sample (n = 575) were current smokers.

Design/intervention: Quasi-experimental study of patrons, surveyed after having viewed a movie. The control group was surveyed in week 1, and the intervention group in weeks 2 and 3. Before seeing the movie in weeks 2 and 3, a 30 s antismoking advertisement was shown, shot in the style of a movie trailer that warned patrons not to be sucked in by the smoking in the movie they were about to see.

Outcomes: Attitude of current smokers and non-smokers to smoking in the movies; intention of current smokers and non-smokers to smoke in 12 months.

Results: Among non-smokers, 47.8% of the intervention subjects thought that the smoking in the viewed movie was not OK compared with 43.8% of the control subjects (p = 0.04). However, there was no significant difference among smokers in the intervention (16.5%) and control (14.5%) groups (p = 0.4). A higher percentage of smokers in the intervention group indicated that they were likely to be smoking in 12 months time (38.6%) than smokers in the control group (25.6%; p<0.001). For non-smokers, there was no significant difference in smoking intentions between groups, with 1.2% of intervention subjects and 1.6% of controls saying that they would probably be smoking in 12 months time (p = 0.54).

Conclusions: This real-world study suggests that placing an antismoking advertisement before movies containing smoking scenes can help to immunise non-smokers against the influences of film stars’ smoking. Caution must be exercised in the type of advertisement screened as some types of advertising may reinforce smokers’ intentions to smoke.

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