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Levels and correlates of awareness of tobacco promotional activities among adult smokers in Malaysia and Thailand: findings from the International Tobacco Control Southeast Asia (ITC-SEA) Survey
  1. H-H Yong1,
  2. R Borland2,
  3. D Hammond3,
  4. B Sirirassamee4,
  5. B Ritthiphakdee5,
  6. R Awang6,
  7. M Omar6,
  8. F Kin6,
  9. Z bt M Zain7,
  10. W B Lee8,
  11. M Siahpush9,
  12. G T Fong8,10
  1. 1
    VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control, The Cancer Council Victoria, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2
    Tobacco Control Unit, The Cancer Council Victoria, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3
    Department of Health Studies & Gerontology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada
  4. 4
    Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand
  5. 5
    Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Bangkok, Thailand
  6. 6
    National Poison Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia
  7. 7
    Tobacco Control Unit, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Putrajaya, Malaysia
  8. 8
    Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada
  9. 9
    Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
  10. 10
    Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Hua-Hie Yong, PhD, VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control, The Cancer Council Victoria, 1 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, VIC 3053, Australia; hua.yong{at}


Aim: To examine the impact of tobacco advertising policy on adult smokers’ awareness of tobacco promotion in two developing countries—Malaysia and Thailand.

Methods: Data from 2004 Malaysian and 2000 Thai adult smokers who participated in the baseline wave of the International Tobacco Control Southeast Asia survey (ITC-SEA). Respondents were asked in a face-to-face interview conducted between January and March 2005 to indicate their levels of awareness of tobacco advertising and promotional activities in the last six months.

Results: Unprompted awareness of any tobacco marketing activities was very low in Thailand (20%) but significantly higher in Malaysia (53%; OR = 5.6, 95% CI: 3.5 to 8.9, p<0.001). When prompted about specific locations, Thai adult smokers reported very low recall of tobacco advertising where it was banned, being highest around point of sale, particularly street vendors (7.5%). In contrast, Malaysian adult smokers reported significantly higher levels of awareness of tobacco advertising in all locations (range = 17.7% noticing in disco lounges to 59.3% on posters) including where they are notionally banned (for example, billboards).

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that comprehensive tobacco advertising legislation when well implemented can lead to dramatic decline in awareness of tobacco promotion, thus supporting strong implementation of Article 13 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: All study protocol was cleared for ethics by the institutional review or research ethics boards at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Mahidol University (Thailand), University of Waterloo (Canada), The Cancer Council Victoria (Australia), and Roswell Park Cancer Institute (USA).