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Negative Tobacco Industry Ads Could Reduce Smoking

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A new study shows that negative ads targeting the tobacco industry could go a long way to help change smoking behaviors in young adults and help them to quit smoking.

University of California San Francisco (UCFS) researchers asked young adults a series of three questions, finding that young respondents who have a negative view of the tobacco industry were four times more likely to plan to quit smoking than those who felt the tobacco industry does not deceive.

The respondents of the survey were polled to answer yes or not to the following questions in order to measure a positive or negative view toward the tobacco industry:

· Taking a stand against smoking is important to me

· I want to be involved with efforts to get rid of cigarette smoking

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· I would like to see cigarette companies go out of business.

Those who agreed with the above statements were one-third less likely to be smokers. Those who did smoke but had a negative view of the tobacco industry were more ready to stop smoking.

Stanton Glantz, PhD, a study co-author and professor of medicine and director of UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education says, “Running anti-tobacco ads to expose the fact that the tobacco industry kills five million people worldwide annually turns out to be hugely successful in preventing and promoting cessation.” Dr. Glantz suggests that rather on focusing on the health hazards of smoking, “tobacco industry denormalization” might be more appealing to young adults. Negative tobacco industry ads, versus negative tobacco ads might have a national impact.

Lead study author, Pamela Ling, MD, MPH says, “The results show a huge effect of attitudes linked to advertising campaigns that focus on portraying the tobacco industry in a negative light. The tobacco industry cares a lot about public opinion and hates those ads, because the ads make the industry look bad.”

The study authors say the tobacco industry targets adults age 18 to 25. “They are sensitive to the tobacco industry lying about its products, and to the fact that the industry has been manipulating the public for so long.” Looking at what motivates people to change behavior is important. The study suggests that negative tobacco industry ads could motivate young adults not to smoke, while helping other young adults quit smoking.