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Open Access Promising Themes for Antismoking Campaigns Targeting Youth and Young Adults

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Objectives: Behavior change campaigns typically try to change beliefs that influence behaviors, with targeted beliefs comprising the campaign theme. We present an empirical approach for choosing among a large number of potential themes, and results from the implementation of this approach for campaigns aimed at 4 behavioral targets: (1) preventing smoking initiation among youth, and (2) preventing initiation, (3) stopping progression to daily smoking and (4) encouraging cessation among young adults. Methods: An online survey of 13- to 17-year-olds and 18- to 25-year-olds in the United States (US), in which 20 potential campaign themes were represented by 154 beliefs. For each behavioral target, themes were ranked based on the strength of belief-intention and belief-behavior associations and size of the population not already endorsing the beliefs. Results: The most promising themes varied across behavioral targets but 3 were consistently promising: consequences of smoking for mood, social acceptance and social popularity. Conclusions: Using a robust and systematic approach, this study provides campaign developers with empirical data to inform their selection of promising themes. Findings related to the campaign to prevent initiation among youth informed the development of the US Food and Drug Administration's “The Real Cost” campaign.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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