Introduction: Over the past decade, public education mass media campaigns have been shown to be successful in changing tobacco-related attitudes, intentions, and behaviors among youth and young adults. In 2014, the national truth® campaign re-launched a new phase of the campaign targeted at a broad audience of youth and young adults, aged 15-21, to help end the tobacco epidemic.
Methods: The study sample for this analysis is drawn from the Truth Longitudinal Cohort (TLC), a probability-based, nationally representative cohort designed to evaluate the relationship between awareness of truth media messages and changes in targeted attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors over time. The sample for this study was limited to those with data at baseline and three subsequent follow-up surveys (n = 7536).
Results: Logistic regression models indicate that truth ad awareness is significantly associated with increases in targeted anti-tobacco attitudes as well as reduced intentions to smoke over time, holding constant baseline attitudes and intentions. Results also suggest a dose-response relationship in that higher levels of truth ad awareness were significantly associated with higher likelihood of reporting agreement across all five attitudinal constructs: anti-smoking imagery, anti-social smoking sentiment, anti-tobacco social movement, anti-tobacco industry sentiment, and independence.
Conclusions: Longitudinal results indicate a significant dose-response relationship between awareness of the new phase of the truth campaign and campaign-targeted attitudes and intentions not to smoke among youth and young adults.
Implications: Findings from this study confirm that a carefully designed anti-tobacco public education campaign aimed at youth and young adults is a key population-level intervention within the context of an expanding tobacco product landscape and a cluttered media environment. As tobacco use patterns shift and new products emerge, evidence-based public education campaigns can play a central role in helping the next generation to reject tobacco. Public education mass media campaigns are a key component to changing tobacco use attitudes and behavior, particularly among youth and young adults.