The influence of antismoking television advertisements on cessation by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and mental health status
Disparities in tobacco use and smoking cessation by race/ethnicity, education, income, and mental health status remain despite recent successes in reducing tobacco use. It is unclear to what extent media campaigns promote cessation within these population groups. This study aims to (1) assess whether exposure to antitobacco advertising is associated with making a quit attempt within a number of population subgroups, and (2) determine whether advertisement type differentialy affects cessation behavior across subgroups. We used data from the New York Adult Tobacco Survey (NY-ATS), a cross-sectional, random-digit-dial telephone survey of adults aged 18 or older in New York State conducted quarterly from 2003 through 2011 (N = 53,706). The sample for this study consists of 9,408 current smokers from the total NY-ATS sample. Regression methods were used to examine the effect of New York State’s antismoking advertising, overall and by advertisement type (graphic and/or emotional), on making a quit attempt in the past 12 months. Exposure to antismoking advertising was measured in two ways: gross rating points (a measure of potential exposure) and self-reported confirmed recall of advertisements. This study yields three important findings. First, antismoking advertising promotes quit attempts among racial/ethnic minority smokers and smokers of lower education and income. Second, advertising effectiveness is attributable in part to advertisements with strong graphic imagery or negative emotion. Third, smokers with poor mental health do not appear to benefit from exposure to antismoking advertising of any type. This study contributes to the evidence about how cessation media campaigns can be used most effectively to increase quit attempts within vulnerable subgroups. In particular, it suggests that a general campaign can promote cessation among a range of sociodemographic groups. More research is needed to understand what message strategies might work for those with poor mental health.