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Can mass media campaigns (television, radio, newspapers, billboards and booklets) deter young people from starting to smoke

Brinn MP, Carson KV, Esterman AJ, Chang AB, Smith BJ
Published Online: 
10 August 2011

Campaigns which researched and developed their message to reach their target audience had a higher success rate than those which did not. Overall, effective campaigns lasted longer with a minimum of three consecutive years, and were also more intense than less successful ones for both school based lessons (minimum eight lessons per grade) and media spots (minimum 4 weeks' duration across multiple media channels with between 167 and 350 TV and radio spots). The timing and type of broadcast made a difference to their success, with older youths in one study preferring radio to television. Implementation of combined school based curriculum/components (i.e. school posters) and the use of repetitive media messages delivered via multiple channels (i.e. newspapers, radio, television) over a minimum period of three years contributed to successful campaigns. Changes in attitudes, knowledge or intention to smoke did not generally seem to affect the long-term success of the campaigns.