“We suspected this the minute we saw the kind of ads the tobacco companies were creating,” said Brian Flay, a professor in the Department of Public Health at Oregon State University. “Their objective is to get customers, not to stop customers from finding them.”

More than 100,000 students from all areas of the country in 8th, 10th and 12th grades were surveyed to assess the relationship between exposure to tobacco company prevention advertising and youth smoking-related beliefs, intentions and behaviours. The scientists found out that each additional youth-targeted prevention ad viewed by a student resulted in a three percent stronger intention among all students to smoke in the future. There was a twelve percent increase in the likelihood that 10th- and 12th-grade students would become smokers if they watched prevention ads targeted at their parents. On average, the students were exposed to more than four youth-targeted ads per month.

In analysing the data, researchers adjusted their analysis for factors other than tobacco company prevention ads that might have had an effect on levels of youth smoking. Those additional factors include smoking laws, cigarette prices and other televised advertising about not smoking. Flay, who has conducted school-based and health research for more than 30 years, said parents who find the amount of advertising targeting their children overwhelming can take preventative steps.

“Parents should have a clear message about smoking and always reinforce that message against smoking from an early age,” he said. “Even parents who are smokers can make it clear and communicate to their child that they wished they hadn’t started smoking, because the majority of smokers do feel that way.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Oregon State University