A new study by Dr. Jennifer Cantrell, associate research professor with New York University College of Global Public Health was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health titled “Estimating the Pathways of an Anti-tobacco Campaign: An SEM Analysis.”
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.
Dr. Cantrell’s methods included structural equation modeling that 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 was collected from 2014 to 2016, and analyses were conducted in 2017.
The results revealed that greater ad awareness predicted strengthening of attitudes targeted by the campaign (i.e., feelings of independence from tobacco, anti-tobacco industry sentiment, decreasing acceptance of social smoking, and decreasing acceptance of smoking imagery), and attitude changes were significantly associated with greater support for an anti-tobacco 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.
These 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 anti-tobacco public education campaigns are key policy interventions which continue to help prevent tobacco use among youth and young adults.
Read and download Dr. Cantrell’s paper