132 Annual Meeting Logo - Go to APHA Meeting Page  
APHA Logo - Go to APHA Home Page

Developing school-based media education programs aimed at reducing youth tobacco use

Brian A. Primack, MD, EdM, Department of Family Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 373 Burrows Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, 412-383-1550, bprimack@pitt.edu

Introduction: Smoking is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the US. Since 80% of smokers began when they were less than 18 years old, the majority of interventions focus on youth. Although the school setting ideally reaches a variety of youth, school-based anti-smoking programs have been notoriously inefficient at reducing long-term smoking rates. Recent data, however, highlight the significant impact of mass media on smoking initiation and suggest that media education is effective at reaching youth. Methods: A school-based media education program was piloted in three area schools with varying ethnic and socioeconomic populations. Thirty-nine students received three hours of media education involving tobacco marketing over a six month period. Identical surveys describing the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding tobacco were given to the students before and after the six-month study period. Results: Students reported high levels of satisfaction with the program. Knowledge levels did not change significantly. However, there was a statistically significant decrease in self-reported smoking by the end of the program. The magnitude of the change in smoking was accentuated in African-American youth, for whom a certain segment of the program was particularly designed. Anti-tobacco attitudes were also increased to statistical significance, but attitudes with regard to other issues not specifically addressed (such as alcohol and diet) were not altered. Discussion: Media education programs have the potential to reach adolescents and alter their attitudes and behaviors involving tobacco. Inclusion of specifically designed material may make such programs more attractive to minority group members.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Media Literacy, Smoking

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Focus on the Adolescent/Young Adult in Health Communication Research

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA