Effects of mass media campaign exposure intensity and durability on quit attempts in a population-based cohort study

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Objective: To assess the extent to which intensity and timing of televised anti-smoking advertising emphasizing the serious harms of smoking influences quit attempts.

Methods: Using advertising gross rating points (GRPs), we estimated exposure to tobacco control and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) advertising in the 3, 4–6, 7–9 and 10–12 months prior to follow-up of a replenished cohort of 3037 Australian smokers during 2002–08. Using generalized estimating equations, we related the intensity and timing of advertising exposure from each source to the likelihood of making a quit attempt in the 3 months prior to follow-up.

Results: Tobacco control advertising in the 3-month period prior to follow-up, but not in more distant past periods, was related to a higher likelihood of making a quit attempt. Each 1000 GRP increase per quarter was associated with an 11% increase in making a quit attempt [odds ratio (OR) = 1.11, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03–1.19, P = 0.009)]. NRT advertising was unrelated to quit attempts.

Conclusions: Tobacco control advertising emphasizing the serious harms of smoking is associated with short-term increases in the likelihood of smokers making a quit attempt. Repeated cycles of higher intensity tobacco control media campaigns are needed to sustain high levels of quit attempts.

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