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Anti-smoking advertising: lessons learned
Melanie Wakefield explained that the prevalence of smoking in Australia began to plateau in the 1960s after the Royal College of Physicians and United States' Surgeon General's reports linked smoking with cancer.
In 1967 the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria did an audit of what was on television in Melbourne, and found that:
In 1971 the Anti-Cancer Council used television advertising to get a broadcast ban on tobacco advertising on the public and political agenda. One of the first anti-tobacco advertisements was created. This was the first time that Australians had seen an anti-tobacco ad, but the target was the policy makers as much as the public.
Broadcast cigarette advertising in Australia began to be phased out in 1973 and completed by 1976. In the United States they weren't able to get a broadcast ban but one anti-tobacco ad was required to be broadcast for every three tobacco ads from 1976. Over a period of a couple of years tobacco use declined so quickly that cigarette companies voluntarily withdrew their tobacco advertising.
The National Tobacco Campaign
During the 1980s various Australian states developed anti-smoking campaigns. The first campaign was run in Sydney in 1983 and Melbourne was used as a control. There were some favourable effects in Sydney so the campaign was moved to Melbourne. Subsequently, other states started their own campaigns.
The success of these campaigns led to further calls for a national campaign in Australia , and in 1997 the National Tobacco Campaign (NTC) was launched. This campaign was aimed at:
Part of the development of the campaign was based on comments from smokers who were interviewed for previous Quit campaign research. These comments included:
The communication brief included:
The campaign was not just an advertising campaign but had a number of resources to help people with their quit attempt. One of the most important resources was the establishment of the national Quitline.
Anti-smoking advertisements need to stimulate a particular response from the smoker. Advertisements should include:
an empathy device—a smoker moment, a slightly self-deprecating moment that leads to the response, "That's me, I do that.", "The people behind this ad understand me."
A fear-based campaign was linked with the help to quit. The various advertisements ran from May 1997 to December 1998 and there was a direct connection between the advertisements and calls to the Quitline. There was an immediate response to the advertisements with calls.
Population surveys occurred throughout the campaign:
Main findings after 6 months
Main findings after 18 months
Main findings after 3.5 years
Confounding influences on prevalence?
Major cigarette tax changes were introduced during 1999 and 2000 involving:
Although the target group was adults it was very interesting to see the effect on adolescents. Among 400 Australian teens in 1998:
Among 3714 Victorian teens in 1999:
There has been a decline in the prevalence of smoking among adolescents. The smoking rates among Australian young people aged 12–15 years and 16–17 years are the lowest they have ever been.
Teen-directed media campaigns in the United States —a natural experiment
The United States provides a natural experiment on the effectiveness of anti-tobacco advertising because of the variation in the timing and amount of anti-tobacco advertising carried out in different states. In the United States , the tobacco industry is back on television and they are running "youth smoking prevention" campaigns. One campaign was directed at young people and the other was directed at parents. It was possible to examine the relationship between the amount and type of anti-smoking advertising and youth smoking prevention advertising for different state campaigns.
The arguments for teen-directed media campaigns include:
The arguments against teen-directed media campaigns include:
In contrast it has been found that:
As adult smoking prevalence declines, so does youth smoking because:
Philip Morris' youth prevention campaign
The results of a youth prevention campaign run by tobacco company Philip Morris and directed at children aged between 14 and 18 years had no effect on smoking attitudes, weakened intentions not to smoke in the future and reduced disapproval of adult smoking.
Last updated: September 2005