Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of tobcontTobacco ControlVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Tob Control. 2001 June; 10(2): 145–153.
PMCID: PMC1747549

News media coverage of smoking and health is associated with changes in population rates of smoking cessation but not initiation


OBJECTIVE—To determine whether changes in news media coverage of smoking and health issues are associated with changes in smoking behaviour in the USA.
DESIGN AND MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES—Issue importance in the US news media is assessed by the number of articles published annually in major magazines indexed in The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. Annual incidence rates for cessation and initiation in the USA were computed from the large, representative National Health Interview Surveys (1965-1992). Patterns in cessation incidence were considered for ages 20-34 years and 35-50 years. Initiation incidence was examined for adolescents (14-17 years) and young adults (18-21 years) of both sexes.
RESULTS—From 1950 to the early 1980s, the annual incidence of cessation in the USA mirrored the pattern of news media coverage of smoking and health, particularly for middle aged smokers. Cessation rates in younger adults increased considerably when secondhand smoke concerns started to increase in the US population. Incidence of initiation in young adults did not start to decline until the beginning of the public health campaign against smoking in the 1960s. Among adolescents, incidence rates did not start to decline until the 1970s, after the broadcast ban on cigarette advertising.
CONCLUSIONS—The level of coverage of smoking and health in the news media may play an important role in determining the rate of population smoking cessation, but not initiation. In countries where cessation has lagged, advocates should work to increase the newsworthiness of smoking and health issues.

Keywords: initiation; cessation; health; mass media

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (198K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Pierce JP, Gilpin EA. A historical analysis of tobacco marketing and the uptake of smoking by youth in the United States: 1890-1977. Health Psychol. 1995 Nov;14(6):500–508. [PubMed]
  • Pierce JP, Choi WS, Gilpin EA, Farkas AJ, Berry CC. Tobacco industry promotion of cigarettes and adolescent smoking. JAMA. 1998 Feb 18;279(7):511–515. [PubMed]
  • Biener L, Siegel M. Tobacco marketing and adolescent smoking: more support for a causal inference. Am J Public Health. 2000 Mar;90(3):407–411. [PubMed]
  • Warner KE. Effects of the antismoking campaign: an update. Am J Public Health. 1989 Feb;79(2):144–151. [PubMed]
  • Pierce JP, Macaskill P, Hill D. Long-term effectiveness of mass media led antismoking campaigns in Australia. Am J Public Health. 1990 May;80(5):565–569. [PubMed]
  • Macaskill P, Pierce JP, Simpson JM, Lyle DM. Mass media-led antismoking campaign can remove the education gap in quitting behavior. Am J Public Health. 1992 Jan;82(1):96–98. [PubMed]
  • Pierce JP, Anderson DM, Romano RM, Meissner HI, Odenkirchen JC. Promoting smoking cessation in the United States: effect of public service announcements on the Cancer Information Service telephone line. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1992 May 6;84(9):677–683. [PubMed]
  • Siegel M, Biener L. The impact of an antismoking media campaign on progression to established smoking: results of a longitudinal youth study. Am J Public Health. 2000 Mar;90(3):380–386. [PubMed]
  • Wynder EL. The past, present, and future of the prevention of lung cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1998 Sep;7(9):735–748. [PubMed]
  • Doll R. Tobacco: a medical history. J Urban Health. 1999 Sep;76(3):289–313. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • DOLL R, HILL AB. Smoking and carcinoma of the lung; preliminary report. Br Med J. 1950 Sep 30;2(4682):739–748. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • WYNDER EL, GRAHAM EA. Tobacco smoking as a possible etiologic factor in bronchiogenic carcinoma; a study of 684 proved cases. J Am Med Assoc. 1950 May 27;143(4):329–336. [PubMed]
  • WYNDER EL, GRAHAM EA, CRONINGER AB. Experimental production of carcinoma with cigarette tar. Cancer Res. 1953 Dec;13(12):855–864. [PubMed]
  • DOLL R, HILL AB. The mortality of doctors in relation to their smoking habits; a preliminary report. Br Med J. 1954 Jun 26;1(4877):1451–1455. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • HAMMOND EC, HORN D. The relationship between human smoking habits and death rates: a follow-up study of 187,766 men. J Am Med Assoc. 1954 Aug 7;155(15):1316–1328. [PubMed]
  • AUERBACH O, PETRICK TG, STOUT AP, STATSINGER AL, MUEHSAM GE, FORMAN JB, GERE JB. The anatomical approach to the study of smoking and bronchogenic carcinoma; a preliminary report of forty-one cases. Cancer. 1956 Jan-Feb;9(1):76–83. [PubMed]
  • AUERBACH O, FORMAN JB, GERE JB, KASSOUNY DY, MUEHSAM GE, PETRICK TG, SMOLIN HJ, STOUT AP. Changes in the bronchial epithelium in relation to smoking and cancer of the lung; a report of progress. N Engl J Med. 1957 Jan 17;256(3):97–104. [PubMed]
  • BERKSON J. The statistical study of association between smoking and lung cancer. Proc Staff Meet Mayo Clin. 1955 Jul 27;30(15):319–348. [PubMed]
  • FISHER RA. Cancer and smoking. Nature. 1958 Aug 30;182(4635):596–596. [PubMed]
  • BURNEY LE. Smoking and lung cancer: a statement of the Public Health Service. J Am Med Assoc. 1959 Nov 28;171:1829–1837. [PubMed]
  • WYNDER EL. An appraisal of the smoking-lung-cancer issue. N Engl J Med. 1961 Jun 15;264:1235–1240. [PubMed]
  • LITTLE CC. Some phases of the problem of smoking and lung cancer. N Engl J Med. 1961 Jun 15;264:1241–1245. [PubMed]
  • Warner KE. Cigarette smoking in the 1970's: the impact of the antismoking campaign on consumption. Science. 1981 Feb 13;211(4483):729–731. [PubMed]
  • Hammond EC, Garfinkel L, Seidman H, Lew EA. "Tar" and nicotine content of cigarette smoke in relation to death rates. Environ Res. 1976 Dec;12(3):263–274. [PubMed]
  • Wynder EL, Stellman SD. Impact of long-term filter cigarette usage on lung and larynx cancer risk: a case-control study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1979 Mar;62(3):471–477. [PubMed]
  • Gori GB. Low-risk cigarettes: a prescription. Science. 1976 Dec 11;194(4271):1243–1246. [PubMed]
  • Gori GB, Lynch CJ. Toward less hazardous cigarettes. Current advances. JAMA. 1978 Sep 15;240(12):1255–1259. [PubMed]
  • Gilpin EA, Lee L, Evans N, Pierce JP. Smoking initiation rates in adults and minors: United States, 1944-1988. Am J Epidemiol. 1994 Sep 15;140(6):535–543. [PubMed]
  • Pierce JP, Lee L, Gilpin EA. Smoking initiation by adolescent girls, 1944 through 1988. An association with targeted advertising. JAMA. 1994 Feb 23;271(8):608–611. [PubMed]
  • Doll R, Peto R, Wheatley K, Gray R, Sutherland I. Mortality in relation to smoking: 40 years' observations on male British doctors. BMJ. 1994 Oct 8;309(6959):901–911. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Gilpin EA, Pierce JP, Farkas AJ. Duration of smoking abstinence and success in quitting. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 Apr 16;89(8):572–576. [PubMed]
  • Doll R, Gray R, Hafner B, Peto R. Mortality in relation to smoking: 22 years' observations on female British doctors. Br Med J. 1980 Apr 5;280(6219):967–971. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Pierce JP, Dwyer T, Chamberlain A, Aldrich RN, Shelley JM. Targeting the smoker in an anti-smoking campaign. Prev Med. 1987 Nov;16(6):816–824. [PubMed]
  • Chapman S, Borland R, Scollo M, Brownson RC, Dominello A, Woodward S. The impact of smoke-free workplaces on declining cigarette consumption in Australia and the United States. Am J Public Health. 1999 Jul;89(7):1018–1023. [PubMed]
  • Glynn TJ. Essential elements of school-based smoking prevention programs. J Sch Health. 1989 May;59(5):181–188. [PubMed]
  • Baugh JG, Hunter SM, Webber LS, Berenson GS. Development trends of first cigarette smoking experience of children: the Bogalusa heart study. Am J Public Health. 1982 Oct;72(10):1161–1164. [PubMed]
  • Choi WS, Gilpin EA, Farkas AJ, Pierce JP. Determining the probability of future smoking among adolescents. Addiction. 2001 Feb;96(2):313–323. [PubMed]
  • Whelan EM, Sheridan MJ, Meister KA, Mosher BA. Analysis of coverage of tobacco hazards in women's magazines. J Public Health Policy. 1981 Mar;2(1):28–35. [PubMed]
  • Albright CL, Altman DG, Slater MD, Maccoby N. Cigarette advertisements in magazines: evidence for a differential focus on women's and youth magazines. Health Educ Q. 1988 Summer;15(2):225–233. [PubMed]
  • Warner KE, Goldenhar LM, McLaughlin CG. Cigarette advertising and magazine coverage of the hazards of smoking. A statistical analysis. N Engl J Med. 1992 Jan 30;326(5):305–309. [PubMed]

Articles from Tobacco Control are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group