The impact of media campaigns on smoking cessation activity: a structural vector autoregression analysis

Addiction. 2012 Nov;107(11):2043-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03958.x. Epub 2012 Jul 26.


Aims: To evaluate the effect of tobacco control media campaigns and pharmaceutical company-funded advertising for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) on smoking cessation activity.

Design: Multiple time series analysis using structural vector autoregression, January 2002-May 2010.

Setting: England and Wales.

Data sources: Tobacco control campaign data from the Central Office of Information; commercial NRT campaign data; data on calls to the National Health Service (NHS) stop smoking helpline from the Department of Health; point-of-sale data on over-the-counter (OTC) sales of NRT; and prescribing data from The Health Improvement Network (THIN), a database of UK primary care records.

Measurements: Monthly calls to the NHS stop smoking helpline and monthly rates of OTC sales and prescribing of NRT.

Findings: A 1% increase in tobacco control television ratings (TVRs), a standard measure of advertising exposure, was associated with a statistically significant 0.085% increase in calls in the same month (P = 0.007), and no statistically significant effect in subsequent months. Tobacco control TVRs were not associated with OTC NRT sales or prescribed NRT. NRT advertising TVRs had a significant effect on NRT sales which became non-significant in the seasonally adjusted model, and no significant effect on prescribing or calls.

Conclusions: Tobacco control campaigns appear to be more effective at triggering quitting behaviour than pharmaceutical company NRT campaigns. Any effect of such campaigns on quitting behaviour seems to be restricted to the month of the campaign, suggesting that such campaigns need to be sustained over time.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advertising / statistics & numerical data*
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • England
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Promotion / statistics & numerical data
  • Hotlines / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Regression Analysis
  • Seasons
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data
  • Television*
  • Tobacco Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices / statistics & numerical data
  • Wales


  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Prescription Drugs