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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC DPH: Chronic Disease and Injury Section
N.C. Public Health Home

Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch

Youth Tobacco Use Prevention: Conducting Mass Media Campaigns Combined with Other Interventions

Evaluations of the potential impact of media campaigns on teen tobacco use prevention in the United States began with the 1967 Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Fairness Doctrine. It applied to cigarette ads and required a "balance" between anti-smoking and cigarette ads. The balance created a ratio of one free anti-smoking message on television or radio for each three cigarette commercials broadcast. The land-breaking countermarketing TV and radio messages that aired between 1967 and 1970 as part of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine reduced smoking among adolescents. The messages in this ads focused on the health consequences of smoking, at times employing fear inducing strategies.

The Guide to Community Preventive Services Task Force Task Force found that the implementation of mass media campaigns were effective in reducing tobacco use by children, adolescents and young adults when they were combined with other tobacco control measures. HWTF provided the first state funding for mass media campaigns in NC and has coordinated local and statewide tobacco control interventions targeting our youth and young adults. Funds for tobacco control interventions are allocated to 49 geographic and culturally diverse organizations, including community, school and priority population grantees, which must be spent on community and school-based interventions that effect teens. HWTF is addressing tobacco use prevention in culturally appropriate ways through grants to statewide organizations that represent African American, Hispanic Latino, and American Indian populations. In 2005, HWTF allocated assets for college aged populations, and NC colleges and community colleges submitted strong applications where the highest rates of tobacco use are found in NC.

HWTF’s paid media campaign, Tobacco Reality Unfiltered, commonly known as “TRU" is the first state government paid tobacco prevention campaign in NC; it follows research that indicates the effectiveness of showing real people telling real stories about the devastating human consequences of tobacco use. Dr. Adam Goldstein with UNC Family Medicine, and an independent evaluator of the HWTF’s Teen Tobacco Use Program, states that “the campaign might have led 9000 kids in the state not to experiment with cigarettes, at least 450 of whom would have gone on to become regular smokers, costing the state approximately $4 million. Thus, the state's media campaign might save $2 for every dollar it spends on its media campaign.”

For more information on the HWTF Teen Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Initiative Media Campaign please visit the Tobacco. Reality. Unfiltered. website.