Graphic, emotional anti-smoking ads increase attempts to quit

October 9, 2012 by Valerie Debenedette

Graphic and/or emotional television anti-smoking ads get more smokers to try to quit than less intense ads, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"Harder hitting worked equally well, regardless of how much you wanted to quit, how much your income is and your level of education," said Matthew C. Farrelly, Ph.D., chief scientist at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and lead author on the study.

The study evaluated the impact of anti-smoking ads run by the New York from 2003 to 2011. Smokers were surveyed about their smoking habits, their recall of anti-smoking ads, their desire to quit and demographic information, such as income level and race. Researchers looked at media market data and determined that the survey participants were exposed to an average of three emotional or graphic anti-smoking commercials and three comparison ads per month during that period. Comparison ads advocated or encouraged quitting but without strong .

The survey found that current smokers who recalled seeing at least one emotional or graphic ad were 29 percent more likely to have tried to quit in the prior year. Exposure to comparison ads did not increase quit attempts. If the goal is to get smokers to try to quit, ads need to evoke a strongly negative reaction to smoking, the authors concluded.

"It surprised me that it would work so well across the board for different types of ," Farrelly said. Graphic, emotional ads may work well because they cut through the noise of other advertising, he noted.

It is known that hard-hitting antismoking advertising works, said Erika Sward, director of national advocacy for the American Lung Association in Washington, D.C. "This study confirms and highlights that what is missing is the lack of political will on the part of states to do what works," she added. 

has urban, suburban and and a wide range of demographics, which means that what works there works everywhere, she said. The American Lung Association wants to see states raise taxes on tobacco, pass smoke-free laws, fund programs to help people quit and run anti-smoking advertising. "When we see that, we see declines in tobacco use," she said.

Explore further: Anti-tobacco TV ads help adults stop smoking, study finds

More information: Farrelly M, Duke JC, Davis KC, et al. 2012. Promotions of smoking cessation with emotional and/or graphic antismoking advertising. Am J Prev Med. In Press.

Related Stories

Anti-tobacco TV ads help adults stop smoking, study finds

April 19, 2012
Anti-tobacco television advertising helps reduce adult smoking, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Institute for Health Research and Policy -- but some ads may be more effective ...

CDC: Ads spark huge increase to quit smoking line

March 30, 2012
(AP) -- More than twice as many people called a toll-free number to help them quit smoking a week after the launch of a $54 million ad campaign that shows graphic images of diseased smokers, federal health officials said ...

CDC launching graphic anti-smoking ad campaign

March 15, 2012
(AP) -- Tobacco taxes and smoking bans haven't budged the U.S. smoking rate in years. Now the government is trying to shock smokers into quitting with a graphic nationwide advertising campaign.

Anti-smoking policies for adults also reduce kids' smoking

June 20, 2011
When governments use comprehensive, well-funded tobacco control programs to reduce adult smoking, they also reduce smoking among adolescents. This bonus effect is an important factor to consider as policymakers face pressure ...

Social disapproval not fear helps smokers quit

March 15, 2012
Researchers from Canterbury Christ Church University have found that smokers are more likely to stop because of anti-social attitudes towards them than from fear of ill-health.

Recommended for you

For opiate addiction, study finds drug-assisted treatment is more effective than detox

November 23, 2017
Say you're a publicly insured Californian with an addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription narcotics, and you want to quit.

Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

November 17, 2017
A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use ...

Insomnia linked to alcohol-use frequency among early adolescents, says new psychology study

November 8, 2017
Insomnia is linked to frequency of alcohol use among early adolescents, according to new Rutgers University–Camden research.

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

October 25, 2017
More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according ...

Trying to get sober? NIH offers tool to help find good care

October 3, 2017
The phone calls come—from fellow scientists and desperate strangers—with a single question for the alcohol chief at the National Institutes of Health: Where can my loved one find good care to get sober?

Medical students need training to prescribe medical marijuana

September 15, 2017
Although 29 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana use for medical purposes, few medical students are being trained how to prescribe the drug. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.