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.