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What is the role of tobacco control advertising intensity and duration in reducing adolescent smoking prevalence? Findings from 16 years of tobacco control mass media advertising in Australia
  1. Victoria M White,
  2. Sarah J Durkin,
  3. Kerri Coomber,
  4. Melanie A Wakefield
  1. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Corresponding to Dr Victoria White, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, 1 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria 3053, Australia; Vicki.White{at}


Objective To examine how the intensity and duration of tobacco control advertising relate to adolescent smoking prevalence.

Methods Australian students (aged 12–17 years) participating in a national survey conducted triennially between 1993 and 2008 (sample size range 12 314–16 611). The outcome measure was students’ smoking in the previous 4 weeks collected through anonymous, self-completed surveys. For each student, monthly targeted rating points (TRPs, a measure of television advertising exposure) for tobacco control advertising was calculated for the 3 and 12 months prior to surveying. For each time period, cumulative TRPs exposure and exposure to three intensity levels (≥100 TRPs/month; ≥400 TRPs/month; ≥800 TRPs/month) over increasing durations (eg, 1 month, 2 months, etc) were calculated. Logistic regression examined associations between TRPs and adolescent smoking after controlling for demographic and policy variables.

Results Past 3-month cumulative TRPs were found to have an inverse relationship with smoking prevalence. Low TRPs exposure in the past 12 months was positively associated with adolescent smoking prevalence. However, smoking prevalence reduced with cumulative exposure levels above 5800 cumulative TRPs. Additionally, exposure to ≥400 TRPs/month and ≥800 TRPs/month were associated with reduced likelihood of smoking, although the duration needed for this effect differed for the two intensity levels. When intensity was ≥400 TRPs/month, the odds of smoking only reduced with continuous exposure. When intensity was ≥800 TRPs/month, exposure at levels less than monthly was associated with reductions in smoking prevalence.

Conclusions Both antismoking advertising intensity and duration are important for ensuring reductions in adolescent smoking prevalence.

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