The influence of celebrity exemplars on college students' smoking

J Am Coll Health. 2016;64(1):48-60. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2015.1074238.

Abstract

Objective: This study examined the effect of celebrity smoking exemplars in health news on college students' perceptions of smoking-related health risks and smoking intentions.

Participants and methods: The data were collected using a Web-based survey of 219 undergraduate students at a large midwestern university in March 2011. Separate analyses of covariance were conducted.

Results: The influence of negative exemplars of celebrity smoking on perceptions of smoking-related health risks and smoking intentions varied according to smoking status. Ever-smokers who read smoking news with negative exemplars of celebrity smoking were more likely than ever-smokers who read the same news absent any exemplar to report higher levels of perceptions of smoking-related health risks and lower levels of smoking intentions. However, these patterns were not found in never-smokers.

Conclusions: Exemplification theory enhanced by the celebrity element may be effectively applied as a strategy to change health behavior in college students.

Keywords: Antismoking messaging; celebrity; college student; exemplar; exemplification theory; smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advertising*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Young Adult