Original: anti-smoking media campaign messages: theory and practice

Health Commun. 2007;22(2):91-102. doi: 10.1080/10410230701453884.


This study examined televised anti-smoking advertisements that were designed to discourage adult and teen smoking. A content analysis of 399 television advertisements catalogued in the Media Campaign Resource Center (MCRC) database were evaluated to determine (a) whether the advertising content reflected core health communication theories used in the design of health campaign messages to change behavior and (b) the affective presentation of tobacco-control advertisements aimed to decrease smoking. The results revealed that anti-smoking advertising relied overwhelmingly on appeals to attitudes. Although the benefits of not smoking were mentioned in 61% of advertisements, barriers were mentioned in only 17% of advertisements. Advertisements emphasized the consequences of smoking more than the viewer's self-efficacy. Finally, advertisements were more likely to use informational and humor appeals, rather than sadness, fear, or anger appeals. The research identifies the types of advertisements that are most likely to be utilized and underutilized in national and statewide anti-smoking advertising campaigns catalogued in the MCRC database.

MeSH terms

  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • United States