Antitobacco advertisement components, including types of messages and advertising appeals, have not been evaluated among multinational groups. This study identified and compared the content of antismoking video ads across three countries. We reviewed 86 antismoking video advertisements for the following information: severity of the consequences of smoking, types of risks, appeals to audiences’ self-efficacy, benefits of not smoking, targeted social–ecological level and types of message appeal used. Two researchers independently coded each advertisement with an average inter-coder reliability of 0.79.
Analyses showed a variety of focuses: smoking-related health risks (86%), severe consequences of smoking (54.7%), self-efficacy beliefs (40.7%) and benefits of not smoking (84.9%). Compared to the United States and Taiwanese ads, Chinese ads were more likely to target at the community level (10% versus 23.3% versus 47.2%). Additionally, 55% of the United States ads used the fear approach, whereas 61.1% of Chinese ads used the social approach. Taiwanese ads were evenly distributed among both approaches. In conclusion, the countries used different targeting strategies and approaches during message delivery. Although China’s neighboring country, Taiwan, has many similar cultural aspects, including the same language, they are greatly influenced by US antitobacco campaigns. As a result, Taiwan’s tobacco campaigns appear to have similar components to both China and the United States. Further research is warranted to understand the reasons for each method and to examine the effectiveness of the ads in reducing smoking rates.