The limitations of econometric analysis in cigarette advertising studies

Br J Addict. 1989 Nov;84(11):1267-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.1989.tb00723.x.


Econometric analysis of the relationship between advertising and smoking has assumed a position of prominence in debate between public health and tobacco industry interests. Econometric methods are intrinsically limited in their ability to address the essential qualitative nature of advertising because they are obliged to assign arbitrary quantitative values to a medium where such assignation is highly debatable. The same problems occur when econometric methods attempt to assign values to other qualitative variables like health education campaigns and changing cultural factors relevant to smoking. Rather than commencing with the question 'what does advertising to do people', an alternative research paradigm which asks 'what do people do with advertising' should underpin research into advertising 'effects'.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising / economics*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Public Policy
  • Smoking / trends*
  • Smoking Prevention