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Results of a national mass media campaign in India to warn against the dangers of smokeless tobacco consumption


Objective Smokeless tobacco consumption in India is a significant source of morbidity and mortality. In order to educate smokeless tobacco users about the health harms of smokeless tobacco and to denormalise tobacco usage and encourage quitting, a national television and radio mass media campaign targeted at smokeless tobacco users was aired for 6 weeks during November and December 2009.

Methods The campaign was evaluated with a nationally representative household survey of smokeless tobacco users (n=2898). The effect of campaign awareness was assessed with logistic regression analysis.

Results The campaign affected smokeless tobacco users as intended: 63% of smokeless-only users and 72% of dual users (ie, those who consumed both smoking and smokeless forms) recalled the campaign advertisement, primarily through television delivery. The vast majority (over 70%) of those aware of the campaign said that it made them stop and think, was relevant to their lives and provided new information. 75% of smokeless-only users and 77% of dual users said that it made them feel concerned about their habit. Campaign awareness was associated with better knowledge, more negative attitudes towards smokeless tobacco and greater cessation-oriented intentions and behaviours among smokeless tobacco users.

Conclusions Social marketing campaigns that utilise mass media are feasible and efficacious interventions for tobacco control in India. Implications for future mass media tobacco control programming in India are discussed.

  • Smokeless tobacco
  • smoking
  • evaluation
  • tobacco control
  • social marketing
  • mass media
  • communications
  • advertising and promotion
  • public policy
  • smokeless tobacco products

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