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Estimating the Pathways of an Antitobacco Campaign

      Abstract

      Purpose

      This study examined mechanisms through which the truth campaign, a national mass media antismoking campaign, influences smoking-related attitudes, and progression of tobacco use over time in youth and young adults.

      Methods

      Structural equation modeling tested causal pathways derived from formative research and behavioral theory with a nationally representative longitudinal sample of 15–21-year-olds (n = 8747) over 24 months. Data were collected from 2014 to 2016, and analyses were conducted in 2017.

      Results

      Greater ad awareness predicted strengthening of attitudes targeted by the campaign (i.e., feelings of independence from tobacco, antitobacco industry sentiment, decreasing acceptance of social smoking, and decreasing acceptance of smoking imagery), and attitude changes were significantly associated with greater support for an antitobacco social movement (e.g., agreement to the item “I would be part of a movement to end smoking”). Greater social movement support predicted a slower rate of progression on smoking intensity after two years of the campaign.

      Conclusions

      Findings suggest that engaging youth and young adults in a cause-based social movement for promoting health can be a powerful strategy to drive positive behavior change. Messages targeting attitudes that resonate with values important to this age group, including independence and connectedness, are particularly effective. Investments in national antitobacco public education campaigns are key policy interventions which continue to help prevent tobacco use among youth and young adults.

      Keywords

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