There are large disparities in cigarette smoking rates by socioeconomic status (SES) in many countries. There is mixed evidence about the relative effectiveness of smoking cessation media campaigns in promoting quitting between lower and higher SES populations, and studies suggest that some types of ad content may have differential effects by SES. We analyzed data from five waves of the New York Media Tracking Survey Online (MTSO), a web survey involving over 7000 adult smokers conducted between 2007 and 2009, to assess SES variation in response to smoking cessation ads. Smokers with low levels of education and income less often recalled ads focused on how to quit, and perceived them as less effective, than ads using graphic imagery or personal testimonials to convey why to quit. Contrary to predictions offered by the Stages of Change Model, we found no evidence that variation in readiness to quit smoking explained patterns of response by education. Results offer guidance for theorists and campaign planners in developing campaigns that are likely to promote cessation among less educated populations.
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