Evidence for truth®: the young adult response to a youth-focused anti-smoking media campaign

Am J Prev Med. 2010 Dec;39(6):500-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.08.007.


Background: Previous studies have shown that exposure to truth® and similar countermarketing campaigns is associated with an increase in anti-smoking attitudes and beliefs in those aged 12-17 years and a decrease in youth smoking. However, it is unclear how such campaigns influence young adults aged 18-24 years.

Purpose: To examine levels of awareness and the effect of the national truth campaign on smoking-related attitudes, beliefs, and intentions in young adults.

Methods: Data on respondents, aged 18-24 years, from the Legacy Media Tracking Surveys-eight cross-sectional nationally representative telephone surveys administered from 2000 to 2004-were combined and analyzed in 2009. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine the associations between confirmed awareness of the truth campaign and smoking-related attitudes, beliefs, and intentions. A second set of models was used to examine the association of attitudes and beliefs targeted by the campaign with smoking intentions.

Results: A majority of young adults showed confirmed awareness of the truth campaign. Awareness was associated with roughly half of the anti-smoking attitudes and beliefs, and it was associated marginally with the intention to quit among smokers (p=0.06). Several of the attitudes and beliefs targeted by the campaign were associated with the intention to not smoke (among nonsmokers) and to quit (among smokers).

Conclusions: Messages contained in youth-focused anti-smoking campaigns may promote attitudinal and behavioral change in young adults. Young adults are at risk for both initiation and establishment of smoking, while also being targeted specifically by the tobacco industry, so it is critical to consider this audience when developing and implementing anti-smoking interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising / methods*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education / methods
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Social Marketing
  • Television
  • Young Adult