Graphic Anti-Smoking Ads Work

Anti smoking propaganda is most effective when it is graphic and emotional

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) There’s no beating around the bush; smoking has serious health consequences. And the more people are faced with ads displaying them, the more likely they are to quit.

A recent study surveyed 8,780 smokers in New York, where graphic anti-smoking ads were playing.

The research results showed that smokers were more likely to make a quit attempt after seeing an ad.

"Call 1-800-Quit-Now."

Matthew C. Farrelly, PhD, chief scientists at Research Triangle Institute International in North Carolina, was the lead investigator for the study.

For the study, 8,780 individual smokers provided survey data about how anti-smoking ads run from 2003-2010 by the New York Tobacco Control Program.

Education level, household income, race and gender were all taken into consideration when weighing the impact of emotional and graphic anti-smoking ads.

Results of the study found that smokers who remember having seen at least one graphic ad were 29 percent more likely to have made a quit attempt within 12 months.

For every additional 5000 graphic anti-smoking ads viewed per year, the odds of people making a quit attempt increased by 38 percent.

Age groups differed slightly in quit attempts, but race, gender, education and income did not predict much difference in quit attempts.

Dr. Farrelly said, “The implications of this study are fairly straightforward: if the goal is to motivate smokers to try and quit smoking, anti-smoking advertisements should be designed to elicit a strong negative emotional reaction.”

“Our findings support the growing evidence that televised messages using emotional, personal testimonials about the consequences of smoking or graphic images to depict the negative health consequences of smoking are effective.”

This study was published in October in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Funding for this study was provided by the New York State Department of Health.

No conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 10, 2012
Last Updated:
October 16, 2012