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Impact of a negative emotional antitobacco mass media campaign on French smokers: a longitudinal study
  1. Romain Guignard1,
  2. Karine Gallopel-Morvan2,
  3. Ute Mons3,4,
  4. Karin Hummel5,
  5. Viêt Nguyen-Thanh1
  1. 1 Department of Prevention and Health Promotion, Santé Publique France, The National Public Health Agency, Saint-Maurice, France
  2. 2 EA 7348 MOS, EHESP School of Public Health, Rennes, France
  3. 3 Cancer Prevention Unit, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany
  4. 4 WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Control, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany
  5. 5 Department of Health Promotion, Maastricht University (CAPHRI), Maastricht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Romain Guignard, Department of Prevention and Health Promotion, Santé Publique France, The National Public Health Agency, Saint-Maurice 94 415, France; Romain.guignard{at}


Background Mass media campaigns to encourage smoking cessation have been shown to be effective in a context of comprehensive tobacco control programme. The effectiveness of antismoking ads that evoke negative emotions remains unclear, in particular in countries with high smoking prevalence and among smokers with low perceived susceptibility, low self-efficacy or who are not users of smoking cessation services.

Objective To evaluate short-term and long-term effects of a 1-month French national highly emotional media campaign, with a focus on these specific targets.

Design A 6-month longitudinal survey by Internet. A sample of 3000 smokers were interviewed before the media campaign (T0). They were contacted again just after (T1) and 6 months after the campaign (T2).

Outcomes Perceived susceptibility to the risks of smoking, self-efficacy to quit smoking, use of smoking cessation services (quitline and website) and 7-day quitting.

Methods The analysis was carried out on 2241 individuals who answered at T1 and T2. Multiple logistic regressions were computed to test the association between the change in each outcome at T1 and T2 and the level of exposure based on self-reported recall.

Results Self-reported recall was associated with an increase in perceived susceptibility and with use of cessation services. Campaign recall was also associated with higher 7-day quitting immediately after the campaign (OR=1.8 (1.0 to 3.2), P<0.05).

Conclusions Fear-appeal mass media campaigns can be effective in encouraging cessation among smokers in a country with high smoking prevalence (France), but should be accompanied by convincing self-efficacy messages.

  • media
  • social marketing
  • cessation
  • socioeconomic status
  • public policy

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  • Contributors RG and VN-T: conceived the study, supervised the design of the questionnaires and data collection. RG: carried out the statistical analyses and wrote the first draft of the manuscript (methods, results and discussion). KG-M: managed the literature searches and wrote the first draft of the introduction. KGM, UM, KH and VN-T: advised on the design of the analyses and substantially contributed to the interpretation of the results. All authors: revised drafts critically for important intellectual content, and reviewed and approved the final manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval French Commission on Data Privacy and Public Liberties (Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés - CNIL).

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