Background: Although studies have addressed the effectiveness of conventional smoking aids such as quit-smoking programs and pharmaceutical therapy, few studies have assessed their likely impact on cessation at the population level relative to the impact of mass media anti-tobacco advertisements.
Methods: A random digit dial telephone survey of 6739 Massachusetts residents conducted in 2001-2002 yielded a subsample of 787 individuals who had quit-smoking within the past 2 years. Measures included the types of cessation aids used and perceptions of their helpfulness. Rates of population impact were estimated. Multinomial logistic regression determined the predictors of being helped by conventional aids, by TV advertisements only, or having no help.
Results: Analyses conducted in 2004-2005 showed that advertisements were the most frequently mentioned source of help among recent quitters. Older more dependent smokers were most likely to find conventional aids helpful. Younger respondents and those who had remained abstinent for more than 6 months were most likely to report being helped by TV ads. The most helpful ads were those that depicted illness due to smoking or provided inspirational quit tips.
Conclusions: Anti-tobacco media campaigns are a vital component of the National Action Plan for Tobacco Cessation. It is essential that such a campaign be implemented, both to support the National Quit Line and to provide assistance to those smokers who find no other form of aid helpful.