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18. Smokers and Stop-Smoking Ads

Kenkel, Lillard, Mathios, and Avery

(l. to r.) Donald Kenkel, Dean Lillard, Alan Mathios, Rosemary Avery

Alan D. Mathios, Rosemary J. Avery, and Donald S. Kenkel, Policy Analysis and Management, and research staff found that smokers who see more magazine ads for smoking-cessation products, such as the nicotine patch, are more likely to quit successfully without buying the products. The researchers used databases on the consumer behavior and magazine-reading habits of 28,303 current or former smokers and advertising data on 26 consumer magazines. Although some of the quitting behavior of smokers involved buying smoking-cessation products, just seeing the ads made it more likely that they would try to quit—so the ads’ public health returns exceed the private returns to manufacturers. The researchers also calculated that if the smoking-cessation product industry increased its average annual spending on magazine advertising by about $2.6 million or 10 percent, the average smoker would see 2.1 more ads each year. Since about 45 million people in the United States smoke, this would translate to about 80,000 additional quits per year. The research has important implications for advertising for a wide range of health products.

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