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Effects of tobacco-related media campaigns on smoking among 20–30-year-old adults: longitudinal data from the USA
  1. Yvonne M Terry-McElrath1,
  2. Sherry Emery2,
  3. Melanie A Wakefield3,
  4. Patrick M O'Malley1,
  5. Glen Szczypka2,
  6. Lloyd D Johnston1
  1. 1Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  2. 2Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  3. 3Center for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Yvonne Terry-McElrath, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, PO Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248, USA; yterry{at}


Objective Young adults in the USA have one of the highest smoking prevalence rates of any age group, and young adulthood is a critical time period of targeting by the tobacco industry. The authors examined relationships between potential exposure to tobacco-related media campaigns from a variety of sponsors and 2-year smoking change measures among a longitudinal sample of US adults aged 20–30 years from 2001 to 2008.

Methods Self-report data were collected from a longitudinal sample of 12 931 US young adults from age 20 to 30. These data were merged with tobacco-related advertising exposure data from Nielsen Media Research. Two-year measures of change in smoking were regressed on advertising exposures.

Results Two-year smoking uptake was unrelated to advertising exposure. The odds of quitting among all smokers and reduction among daily smokers in the 2 years between the prior and current survey were positively related to anti-tobacco advertising, especially potential exposure levels of 104–155 ads over the past 24 months. Tobacco company advertising (including corporate image and anti-smoking) and pharmaceutical industry advertising were unrelated to quitting or reduction.

Conclusion Continued support for sustained, public health-based well-funded anti-tobacco media campaigns may help reduce tobacco use among young adults.

  • Health promotion
  • mass media
  • smoking cessation
  • tobacco
  • young adult
  • advertising and promotion
  • media
  • public policy
  • taxation and price
  • cessation
  • economics
  • environmental tobacco smoke
  • packaging and labelling
  • social marketing
  • tobacco industry
  • qualitative study
  • marginalised populations
  • industry public relations/media
  • industry documents

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  • Funding Monitoring the Future is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA01411 and DA016575). Additional grant support was obtained from the National Cancer Institute (CA123444) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (64703). The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was provided by University of Michigan Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board and University of Illinois at Chicago Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board.

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