Pro-smoking messages urge college kids to light up, a new study shows.
Seeing just one cigarette advertisement immediately increases someone’s desire to smoke by 22%, a new study reveals.
And that urge to light up won’t go away for 7 days.
“The supposed effects of these pro-smoking messages, they seem to be long-lasting, not something that just lasts for a few minutes or even a day,” psychologist Steven Martino, co-author of the study, told the Daily News.
The findings suggest that anti-smoking media messages could also have a strong effect, Martino said.
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Ads like these might not be around as much anymore, but pro-smoking messages still exist. They’re found on posters for e-cigarettes hanging in gas stations, and in TV and movies, when likable characters light up.
For the study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and funded by the nonprofit research organization Rand Corporation, researchers surveyed 134 college students in Pittsburgh, aged 18-24, over a three-week period. The students, a mix of smokers and non-smokers, recorded how often they were exposed to “pro-smoking media messages” like electronic cigarette ads at gas stations, or even a character lighting up in a movie or TV show.
Then, they were prompted to answer questions like, “Do you think you will try a cigarette anytime soon?” to gauge their desire to smoke.
While participants’ urge for a nicotine fix lessened each day after seeing an ad, it didn’t fully wear off until a week later, researchers found.
“They reported greater intentions to smoke, and being less able to turn down an offer to smoke,” Martino said.
Over three weeks, the average participant saw 8 pro-tobacco messages — a lower figure than researchers expected.
“If anything, we were surprised it was so few,” Martino said. “These participants were ones living in an inner-city neighborhood. We expected, with the density of convenience stores, that they might be exposed more often.”