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Health Educ Res. 2013 Oct;28(5):888-97. doi: 10.1093/her/cyt064. Epub 2013 Jun 13.

Fear appeals in advanced tobacco control environments: the impact of a national mass media campaign in Norway.

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Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research, PB 565 Sentrum, 0105 Oslo, Norway.


Norway has one of the most comprehensive infrastructures for tobacco control in the world and has launched several media campaigns recent years. Can yet another anti-smoking campaign, using fear appeal messages, have an immediate impact on smoking behavior, motivation to quit and health beliefs? A sample of smokers (N = 2543) completed a survey before and after a 7-week national media campaign. Individual exposure to campaign (unaided recall) was used as predictor of change. We observed no statistically significant effect on smoking status but tendencies were in the expected direction for daily smokers (P = 0.09). There were no effects on number of cigarettes per day, likelihood to quit or reduce smoking. Small but statistically significant effects were found on motivation to quit (P < 0.01, ηp(2) = 0.004) and perceived seriousness of health hazards (P < 0.05, ηp(2) = 0.002). In addition, there was an increase in interpersonal discussions about health and smoking for those exposed to the campaign (P < 0.01, ηp(2) = 0.008). We conclude that there are very small effects of a relatively short and intense mass media campaign on a population of smokers already exposed to one of the most comprehensive tobacco control programs in the world.

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