The influence of tobacco marketing on adolescent smoking intentions via normative beliefs

Health Educ Res. 2009 Aug;24(4):721-33. doi: 10.1093/her/cyp007. Epub 2009 Mar 13.


Using cross-sectional data from three waves of the Youth Tobacco Policy Study, which examines the impact of the UK's Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act (TAPA) on adolescent smoking behaviour, we examined normative pathways between tobacco marketing awareness and smoking intentions. The sample comprised 1121 adolescents in Wave 2 (pre-ban), 1123 in Wave 3 (mid-ban) and 1159 in Wave 4 (post-ban). Structural equation modelling was used to assess the direct effect of tobacco advertising and promotion on intentions at each wave, and also the indirect effect, mediated through normative influences. Pre-ban, higher levels of awareness of advertising and promotion were independently associated with higher levels of perceived sibling approval which, in turn, was positively related to intentions. Independent paths from perceived prevalence and benefits fully mediated the effects of advertising and promotion awareness on intentions mid- and post-ban. Advertising awareness indirectly affected intentions via the interaction between perceived prevalence and benefits pre-ban, whereas the indirect effect on intentions of advertising and promotion awareness was mediated by the interaction of perceived prevalence and benefits mid-ban. Our findings indicate that policy measures such as the TAPA can significantly reduce adolescents' smoking intentions by signifying smoking to be less normative and socially unacceptable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Awareness
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Tobacco Industry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Tobacco*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology