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Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWRs)

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Estimated Exposure of Adolescents to State-Funded Anti-Tobacco Television Advertisements—37 States and the District of Columbia, 1999–2003

October 28, 2005 / Vol. 54 / No. 42

MMWR Highlights

  • Between 1999 and 2003, monthly exposure to state anti-tobacco television advertisements among youth aged 12–17 increased from 0.04 advertisements in 1999 to 0.80 in 2002, but then declined to 0.63 in 2003.
  • Monthly exposure to anti-tobacco ads widely varied from state to state, ranging from zero in Louisiana, Maryland, and South Carolina, to more than 10 in Utah in 2003.
  • Between 1999 and 2003, exposure to state anti-tobacco television advertisements among Arizona, Florida, and Massachusetts youth declined by 78% to 88%. Most of these reductions resulted from funding cutbacks in state tobacco prevention and control programs.
  • California and Indiana were the only two states to maintain a relatively stable level of anti-tobacco television ad exposure among youth over the 5–year period.
  • Comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs have been shown to decrease smoking initiation. Components of effective state programs include paid anti-tobacco television advertisements as part of countermarketing activities, community-based programs, and policy interventions.
  • There is strong evidence that anti-tobacco mass media campaigns that include paid television advertising reduce youth smoking.
  • Sustained exposure of adolescents to such advertisements over time is important for tobacco-use prevention.
  • Research has shown that tobacco industry-sponsored advertisements are not effective in preventing youth from smoking.
  • The short–term cost savings that states gain by reducing their support for televised anti-tobacco advertising campaigns may produce long-term increased costs from smoking-related health effects.