Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 21 Issue 11 (June 1991), Pages 875-956

Adolescent Smoking Behavior and the Recognition of Cigarette Advertisements (pages 919-932)

In a study designed to assess the relationship between smoking status and correct identification of cigarette brands, junior high school students from two schools viewed cigarette and automobile advertisements with brand and model identification deleted. Results showed that adolescents with higher ad recognition scores were more likely to smoke cigarettes. In addition, a relationship was found between age and correct identification of cigarette advertisements, with older students identifying more ads correctly than younger students. No significant effects emerged for identification of automobile advertisements except for sex, with boys identifying more advertisements than girls. Additional findings indicated that even “experimental” smokers, who smoked as little as once per year, recognized significantly more cigarette advertisements than nonsmokers. These and other results are discussed in terms of their implications for prevention and policy issues. It is argued that society's allowance of printed cigarette advertising overlooks adolescents' heightened vulnerability to the kinds of appeals used in cigarette advertisements. Present policy also overlooks adolescents' relative unresponsiveness to the health risk information required in cigarette advertisements.

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