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Antismoking media exposure among experimental smokers in college linked with weaker intentions to smoke and greater resistance self-efficacy

A new study examined changes in college students’ smoking-related attitudes, beliefs, and intentions as a result of their exposure to antismoking media and smoking status. Participants (N = 87) were college students, in the city of Pittsburgh, between the ages of 18 to 24. At baseline, participants completed a demographic history and smoking-history survey and received training for using a handheld data collection device. Over the course of three weeks, the device recorded information about their exposure to tobacco-related messages in the media and they respond to investigator-initiated control prompts. At each exposure to antismoking media and at each random prompt, participants reported their smoking-related attitudes, perceptions of the prevalence of smoking among their peers, resistance self-efficacy, and intentions to smoke. The authors used mixed-effects regression models (MRMs) to compare smoking-related beliefs and intentions between moments of exposure to antismoking media messages and random prompts. Results showed that participants reported a total of 281 antismoking media exposures, with an average of 1.1 weekly exposures per participant. The majority of exposures came through broadcast media (72%), followed by outdoor signs, digital media and print media (10%). Furthermore, exposure to antismoking messages in broadcast media was most likely to occur during the evening, while such exposure in outdoor, print and digital media was most likely to occur during the afternoon (p < .001). In addition, participants reported almost twice the number of exposures to antismoking media on weekend days compared to weekdays (p < .001). As for the smoking status of participants, it was found to have significant moderating effects on the associations between antismoking media exposure and resistance self-efficacy and antismoking media exposure and intentions to smoke. Although, never smokers’ and current intermittent smokers’ resistance self-efficacy and intentions to smoke did not differ between moments of exposure to antismoking media and random prompts (ps > .46), experimental smokers reported significantly weaker intentions to smoke and greater resistance self-efficacy at moments of exposure to antismoking media than at random prompts (both ps < .05). Regardless of smoking status, participants reported greater perceived prevalence of smoking at times of exposure to antismoking media than at randomly sampled moments (p = .007). Lastly, participant attitudes toward smoking were unaffected by exposure to antismoking media (p = .59).

Take away: This study found that experimental smokers reported weaker intentions to smoke and greater resistance self-efficacy when they were exposed to antismoking media. Participants reported higher perceived prevalence of smoking at times of exposure to antismoking media than at control prompts.

Martino, S. C., Setodji, C. M., Dunbar, M. S., Gong, M., & Shadel, W. G. (2017). Effects of Antismoking Media on College Students’ Smoking-Related Beliefs and Intentions. Psychology of addictive behaviors: journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors.

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