Does Antismoking Advertising Combat Underage Smoking? A Review of Past Practices and Research
University of California, Irvine
From 1967 to 1970, before the ban on broadcast tobacco advertising in the United States, broadcasters were required to air roughly one antismoking ad for every four cigarette ads. Smoking by youth declined markedly. Since then, the underage smoking rate has remained stable. One reason the rate has not declined further may be that, since 1970, expenditures on antismoking ads have been very low. Expenditures have increased recently, but only in three states. In 1995, Massachusetts spent $2.33 per capita, California $.40, and Michigan $.20; in contrast, the tobacco industry spent $3.76 per capita on cigarette ads. Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and groups such as the American Cancer Society, distribute public service announcements (PSAs), but broadcasters tend to air the PSAs from midnight to 6 a.m. Field and lab experiments indicate that antismoking ads can reduce underage smoking. However, youth must see the ads when in grades 5-10. New ads must be created each year. The ads must be coordinated with intensive antismoking school programs. Finally, the ads must depict the short-term costs of smoking (e.g., bad breath), show youth how to refuse cigarette offers, and show that smoking is not the norm.
The U.S. surgeon general estimates that 3,000 youth begin smoking cigarettes every day in the United States and one third will die--10 or more years prematurely--of smoking-related disease ( Collins, 1995). They will die of lung or throat cancer, heart disease, strokes, or other ailments directly related to their smoking, which results in substantial human, health care, and economic costs ( Max & Rice, 1995). Currently, about 20% of