Skip to main content
Research Article Research Article

truth campaign linked with decreased smoking and increased support for anti-tobacco social movement

Youth and young adults with greater awareness of the truth® campaign are more likely to support an anti-tobacco social movement and less likely to become smokers over time, according to a new Truth Initiative® study.

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that greater awareness of truth ads among 15- to 21-year-olds strengthened their anti-smoking attitudes and increased their support for a social movement to end tobacco use. Within a two-year period, these attitudes facilitated a slower progression of smoking among youth and young adults. More than three-quarters — 77 percent — of the nearly 9,000 youth and young adults sampled indicated that they would “definitely not” smoke a cigarette in the next year.

Young people were asked, every six months between 2014 and 2016, how frequently they had seen truth ads and whether they agree or disagree with truth-related attitudes, such as feelings of independence from tobacco, anti-tobacco industry sentiment and support for a social movement to end smoking. Researchers used data from the Truth Longitudinal Cohort, an ongoing study that evaluates the impact of truthon smoking behaviors over time among 15- to 21-year-olds. Researchers also used data from previous studies that examined the progression of smoking among 12- to 26-year-old youth and young adults, to estimate the progression of smoking over the same two-year period.

“Findings suggest that engaging this generation in a cause-based social movement for promoting health can be a powerful strategy to drive positive behavior change and prevent future morbidity and mortality,” researchers wrote. “Evidence also underscores the need for campaigns to employ message themes that are relevant to the target audience. Such attention to the values and culture of a target audience is key to harnessing their influence to make tobacco a thing of the past.”

truth develops strategies to ensure the campaign is culturally relevant and connects with young people at the right places and times, such as leveraging televised pop culture events — like the Grammys and MTV Video Music Awards — to premiere ads that create buzz and drive extended conversations around tobacco. The impact of this strategy, and others, has been proven through research and industry recognition. One study found that truth prevented more than 300,000 youth and young adults from becoming smokers in just one year from 2015-16. Over 15 years, truth has earned more than 400 awards for excellence and effectiveness.

The results of the study underscore the effectiveness of national public education campaigns. The researchers conclude that investments in these campaigns “are key policy interventions which continue to help prevent tobacco use among youth and young adults.”