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The role of reported tobacco-specific media exposure on adult attitudes towards proposed policies to limit the portrayal of smoking in movies
  1. Kelly D Blake1,
  2. K Viswanath1,
  3. Robert J Blendon2,
  4. Donna Vallone3
  1. 1Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3American Legacy Foundation, Washington, DC, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kelly D Blake, 44 Binney Street, MS LW703, Boston, MA 02115, USA; kellyblake{at}


Objective To assess the relative, independent contribution of reported tobacco-specific media exposure (pro-tobacco advertising, anti-tobacco advertising, and news coverage of tobacco issues) to US adults' support for policy efforts that aim to regulate the portrayal of smoking in movies.

Methods Using the American Legacy Foundation's 2003 American Smoking and Health Survey (ASHES-2), multivariable logistic regression was used to model the predicted probability that US adults support movie-specific tobacco control policies, by reported exposure to tobacco-specific media messages, controlling for smoking status, education, income, race/ethnicity, age, sex, knowledge of the negative effects of tobacco and state.

Results Across most outcome variables under study, findings reveal that reported exposure to tobacco-specific media messages is associated with adult attitudes towards movie-specific policy measures. Most exposure to tobacco information in the media (with the exception of pro-tobacco advertising on the internet) contributes independently to the prediction of adult support for movie-specific policies. The direction of effect follows an expected pattern, with reported exposure to anti-tobacco advertising and news coverage of tobacco predicting supportive attitudes towards movie policies, and reported exposure to pro-tobacco advertising lessening support for some movie policies, though the medium of delivery makes a difference.

Conclusion Media campaigns to prevent tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke have had value beyond the intended impact of single-issue campaigns; exposure to anti-tobacco campaigns and public dialogue about the dangers of tobacco seem also to be associated with shaping perceptions of the social world related to norms about tobacco, and ideas about regulating the portrayal of smoking in movies.

  • Movies
  • public opinion
  • policy
  • advertising and promotion
  • public opinion polls
  • public policy

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  • Funding This study was made possible by the Harvard Education Program in Cancer Prevention and Control, Grant 5R25CA057711-14 from the National Cancer Institute.Other Funders: NIH.

  • Competing interests None.

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