Cigarette advertising and teen smoking initiation

Pediatrics. 2011 Feb;127(2):e271-8. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-2934. Epub 2011 Jan 17.


Objective: To test the specificity of the association between cigarette advertising and adolescent smoking initiation.

Methods: A longitudinal survey of 2102 adolescents, aged 10 to 17 years at baseline, who never smoked was conducted by using masked images of 6 cigarette advertisements and 8 other commercial products with all brand information digitally removed. The exposure variable was a combination of contact frequency and cued recall of brands for cigarette and other advertisements. Multilevel mixed-effects Poisson regressions were used to assess smoking initiation 9 months after the baseline assessment as a function of cigarette-advertisement exposure, other advertisement exposure, and baseline covariates.

Results: Thirteen percent (n = 277) of students initiated smoking during the observation period. Although the incidence of trying smoking was associated with increased exposure to cigarette advertisements (10% in the low, 12% in the medium, and 19% in the high cigarette-advertisement exposure tertile initiated smoking), exposure to other advertisements did not predict smoking initiation. Compared with low exposure to cigarette advertisements, high exposure remained a significant predictor of adolescent smoking initiation after controlling for baseline covariates (adjusted relative risk: 1.46 [95% confidence interval: 1.08-1.97]; P < .05).

Conclusions: Our results support the notion of a content-related effect of cigarette advertisements and underlines the specificity of the relationship between tobacco marketing and teen smoking; exposure to cigarette advertisements, but not other advertisements, is associated with smoking initiation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Advertising / economics*
  • Advertising / trends
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking / trends