What Causes Youths to Start Smoking? Converging Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence on the Role of Smoking-Related Advertising

Tom Novak, Southern Methodist University
Cornelia (Connie) Pechmann, University of California at Irvine
[ to cite ]:
Tom Novak and Cornelia (Connie) Pechmann (1993) ,"What Causes Youths to Start Smoking? Converging Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence on the Role of Smoking-Related Advertising", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 265.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, 1993       Page 265

WHAT CAUSES YOUTHS TO START SMOKING? CONVERGING QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE EVIDENCE ON THE ROLE OF SMOKING-RELATED ADVERTISING

Tom Novak, Southern Methodist University

Cornelia (Connie) Pechmann, University of California at Irvine

 

1) DIFFUSION MODELS FOR SMOKING ONSET AND CESSATION: A SEGMENT-LEVEL HISTORICAL ANALYSIS

Thomas P. Novak, Southern Methodist University

Frank M. Bass, University of Texas at Dallas

Wagner A. Kamakura, Vanderbilt University

Clyde Dent, University of Southern California

The Bass diffusion model and Cox proportional hazard model were applied to smoking onset data from the 1990 California Tobacco Survey (CTS). The Bass model assumes that hazard for smoking onset is a linear function of cumulative onset. However, for the CTS data, this assumption is valid only until age 18. This suggests that a constant word-of-mouth parameter is appropriate only until age 18; after this point, individuals become increasingly resistant to starting smoking, and word-of-mouth effects require a time-varying coefficient.

Historical results for smoking onset for segments defined by race, education, and gender, throughout the 20th century were shown using the Cox proportional hazard model. These demographic results are highly consistent with previous research. The Cox model was also used to investigate the effect of overall tobacco industry advertising and price on smoking onset. Results suggested that higher price decreases onset hazard, particularly for those over age 18. Results for advertising were equivocal.

 

2) SMOKING-RELATED ADVERTISING AND ITS EFFECTS ON PRETEENS: A SOCIAL COGNITIVE PERSPECTIVE

Cornelia (Connie) Pechmann, University of California at Irvine

S. Ratneshwar, University of Florida

The age of smoking initiation is steadily decreasing as more preteens experiment with cigarettes. Why do youths continue to smoke despite the well-known health risks? The uptake of smoking is associated with beliefs or stereotypes that smokers have socially desirable attributes (for example, smokers are "cool," and are more popular, attractive, exciting, and mature than nonsmokers). The more positively youths perceive smokers, the more likely they are to take up smoking themselves.

Antismoking advocates contend that cigarette advertising, which is still permitted in print media and on billboards, helps to create or at least perpetuate such positive beliefs or stereotypes about smokers. Using a social-cognitive research approach, we investigated whether smoking-related advertising affects perceptions and judgments of smokers.

In the first phase of a controlled laboratory study involving over 300 seventh graders in Southern California, subjects were exposed to either cigarette, anti-smoking, or nonsmoking-related advertising. The ads were embedded in a professionally produced mock-up color magazine. In the second phase of the study, each subject, seated before a personal computer, was exposed to 12 comments (some positive, negative, and neutral) about a fictitious student (either a smoker or nonsmoker).

Subjects exposed to the anti-smoking (vs. control) ads tended to judge the smoker more negatively on key psychosocial attributes (e.g. attractiveness). Some subjects who saw the cigarette ads tended to have more positive thoughts about the smoker, but others were simply reminded of their negative beliefs.

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