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Exposure to movie smoking, antismoking ads and smoking intensity: an experimental study with a factorial design
  1. Zeena Harakeh1,
  2. Rutger C M E Engels2,
  3. Kathleen Vohs3,
  4. Rick B van Baaren2,
  5. James Sargent4
  1. 1Interdisciplinary Social Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  2. 2Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  3. 3Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA
  4. 4Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, One Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, New Hamsphire, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Zeena Harakeh, Interdisciplinary Social Science, Utrecht University, PO Box 80.140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands; z.harakeh{at}


Background This study examines whether smoking portrayal in movies or antismoking advertisements affect smoking intensity among young adults.

Methods We conducted an experimental study in which 84 smokers were randomly assigned using a two (no-smoking versus smoking portrayal in the movie) by three (two prosocial ads, two antismoking ads or one of each) factorial design. Participants viewed a 60-minute movie with two commercial breaks and afterwards completed a questionnaire. Smoking during the session was allowed and observed.

Results Exposure to the movie with smoking had no effect on smoking intensity. Those who viewed two antismoking ads had significantly lower smoking intensity compared with those who viewed two prosocial ads. There was no interaction between movie smoking and antismoking ads. Baseline CO (carbon monoxide) level had the largest effect on smoking intensity.

Conclusion These findings provide further evidence to support antismoking ads placed with movies because of their possible effect on young adult smoking behaviour. However, caution is warranted, because nicotine dependence appears to be the primary predictor of smoking intensity among young adult smokers in this study.

  • Smoking
  • daily smokers
  • young adults
  • smoking portrayal in movies
  • antismoking advertisement

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  • Funding STIVORO (‘The Dutch expert centre on tobacco control’), Parkstraat 83, 2514 JG, The Hague, The Netherlands.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the ethics committee at the Radboud University Nijmegen.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.