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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health

Building capacity for a tobacco-free world

July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA

Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 12:00 PM

The Evolution of a Tobacco Prevention Media Campaign

Scott Schoengarth, BA and Terry Reid, MSW. Washington State Department of Health, Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, 111 Israel RD SE, PO Box 47848, Olympia, WA 98504-7848

Objective: The youth prevention media campaign is annually challenged with updating and refreshing a youth prevention message to supplement curriculum and policy components that are all part of a successful comprehensive tobacco prevention approach. Over the past five years, the campaigns have evolved from messages about bodily harm to addiction to long-term risk to social impact. The challenge has been to keep the message clear, salient, and interesting while youth grow into and out of the media campaign target age group.

Methods: As the media themes and youth knowledge and attitudes have evolved, so has the process evolved to arrive at these various themes. Methods have included: focus groups; on-street interviews with at-risk youth; interviews with youth in other environments (YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs); journaling exercises within focus groups; and secondary research (Mintel, Simmons, and Yankelovich studies). This exploratory research process uncovered changing attitudes towards smoking, and further clarified the target audience's understanding of risks and consequences of smoking.

Results: The persistent and changing themes of the anti-tobacco media campaigns, combined with the other key elements of the state's comprehensive program, have resulted in the smoking rate among youth dropping by about 50%. Furthermore, about 80% of youth who saw the ads say they gave them good reasons not to smoke. With five years remaining in a 10-year plan, and based on progress to date, the impact on youth smoking in the state should continue to be significant.