Role of the media in influencing trajectories of youth smoking

Melanie Wakefield, Brian Flay, Mark Nichter, Gary Giovino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


This paper summarizes results of empirical studies on cigarette advertising and promotions, antismoking advertising, product placement in movies, on television and in music media and news coverage about smoking. In addition, we provide an overview of some of the theoretical literature relevant to the study of media uses and effects. Finally, we discuss empirical findings in the context of these theories to draw some conclusions about media influences on smoking and identify issues for further research. We conclude that (a) the media both shape and reflect social values about smoking; (b) the media provide new information about smoking directly to audiences: (c) the media act as a source of observational learning by providing models which teenagers may seek to emulate; (d) exposure to media messages about smoking also provides direct reinforcement for smoking or not smoking; (e) the media promote interpersonal discussion about smoking; (f) the media can influence 'intervening' behaviors that may make teenage smoking less likely; and (g) antismoking media messages can also set the agenda for other change at the community, state or national level. We outline priorities for further research which emphasize the need for longitudinal studies, multi-level studies, an awareness of the probably dynamic relationship between tobacco advertising and antismoking advertising, the importance of determining appraisal of tobacco industry youth smoking prevention efforts and the dearth of research on news coverage about smoking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-103
Number of pages25
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Anti-smoking advertising
  • Mass media
  • Media advocacy
  • Review
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco advertising

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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