Smokers and ex-smokers reaction to anti-smoking advertising: a mixed methods approach

Emily J Kothe, Barbara A Mullan

Abstract


Anti-smoking advertising is a central component of modern public health policy. Nevertheless, some smokers have reported that viewing anti-smoking advertising provokes intense nicotine craving. Anti-smoking advertising frequently features images of cigarettes and of individuals smoking. However, research indicates that images of tobacco paraphernalia may induce cravings in individuals addicted to nicotine. The effects of the presence of smoking cues in anti-smoking advertising were considered in the present study. Smokers and ex-smokers (N=63) were randomly assigned to view an anti-smoking advertisement or to complete a control task. Urge to smoke was measured pre- and post-test. Qualitative responses to anti-smoking advertising were also elicited from all participants in the intervention groups. According to both qualitative and quantitative data analyses viewing anti-smoking advertising, even with images of smoking related paraphernalia, led to decreases in craving amongst smokers. Ex-smokers experienced no change in quantitatively measured craving after viewing anti-smoking advertising. These findings are inconsistent with findings from studies using neutral or positive smoking cues. Qualitative data shows that no smokers or ex-smokers who viewed anti-smoking advertising reported an increase in tobacco craving as a result of viewing the campaign. Implications of these findings for future research and anti-smoking campaigns are discussed.

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