Recall and eye tracking study of adolescents viewing tobacco advertisements

JAMA. 1989 Jan 6;261(1):84-9.


The warning on tobacco advertisements was required by the federal government, presumably as a health message to educate the public about the risks associated with tobacco use. Despite its potential public health role, there have been few published studies on the effectiveness of these warnings as a health message. The present study used well-accepted market research methods to examine adolescent viewing of tobacco advertisements. Sixty-one adolescents participated in the study. Eye tracking was used to study how participants viewed five different tobacco advertisements. The average viewing time of the warning amounted to only 8% of the total advertisement viewing time. In 43.6% of cases, the warning was not viewed at all. Following the advertisement viewing, participants were asked to identify the observed warnings within a list that included other simulated warnings. Subjects did only slightly better than random guessing in this test of recognition. Using market research criteria, the federally mandated warning must be viewed as an ineffective public health message in so far as adolescents are concerned.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising / methods*
  • Eye Movements
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Product Labeling
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Tobacco*