Potential effectiveness of anti-smoking advertisement types in ten low and middle income countries: do demographics, smoking characteristics and cultural differences matter?

Soc Sci Med. 2013 Dec;98:204-13. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.09.022. Epub 2013 Oct 3.


Unlike high income countries, there is limited research to guide selection of anti-tobacco mass media campaigns in low and middle income countries, although some work suggests that messages emphasizing serious health harms perform better than other message types. This study aimed to determine whether certain types of anti-smoking advertisements are more likely to be accepted and perceived as effective across smokers in 10 low to middle income countries. 2399 18-34 year old smokers were recruited in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam to view and rate 10 anti-tobacco ads. Five ads were shown in all countries and five ads were chosen by country representatives, providing a total of 37 anti-smoking ads across all countries (10 graphic health effects ads, 6 simulated health effects, 8 emotional stories of health effects, 7 other health effects and 6 non-health effects). Smokers rated ads on a series of 5-point scales containing aggregated measures of Message Acceptance and Perceived Effectiveness. All ads and materials were translated into the local language of the testing regions. In multivariate analysis, graphic health effects ads were most likely to be accepted and perceived as effective, followed by simulated health effects ads, health effects stories, other health effects ads, and then non-health effects ads. Interaction analyses indicated that graphic health effects ads were less likely to differ in acceptance or perceived effectiveness across countries, gender, age, education, parental status and amount smoked, and were less likely to be affected by cultural differences between characters and contexts in ads and those within each country. Ads that did not emphasize the health effects of smoking were most prone to inconsistent impact across countries and population subgroups. Graphic ads about the negative health effects of smoking may be most suitable for wide population broadcast in low and middle income countries.

Keywords: Adults; Cultural congruence; Low and middle income countries; Mass media campaigns; Tobacco.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advertising / methods*
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Developed Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Young Adult