Anti-smoking messages delivered by teachers and the media show promise in reducing youth smoking rates in China, while messages delivered by parents appear ineffective, according to a recent study co-authored by researchers at Georgia State University’s School of Public Health.
Researchers expressed surprise that in China, “effects of familial warnings about harmful effects of smoking … were at best insignificant,” and appeared similar to those in many Western countries.
Dean Michael P. Eriksen, of the Georgia State School of Public Health, and Ms. Pam Redmon, director of the School’s China Tobacco Control Program, were among the co-authors of the study, “The Effects of Antismoking Messages From Family, School, and Mass Media on Smoking Behavior and Smoking Intention Among Chinese Adolescents.” The paper was published recently by the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives.
Cigarette smoking is a growing health threat for Chinese adolescents. The study reports that 18.14 percent of Chinese boys and 3.16 percent of Chinese girls 13-18 smoke, for a total of 15 million “regular” smokers in that age range. Overall, China produces more tobacco and has more smokers than any other country in the world. Little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of anti-smoking campaigns on reducing smoking and intent to smoke among Chinese youth.
The researchers conducted anonymous surveys of junior and senior high school students in four moderate to large Chinese cities: Bayannaoer, Changchun, Dalian, and Nanjing.
The study concludes that messages delivered by teachers about the health dangers of smoking and campaigns in the media can influence young people’s attitudes and behavior and reduce their likelihood to smoke. The researchers recommend further research into the types of messaging that may be most effective in influencing adolescents, and urge the Chinese government to develop anti-smoking media campaigns targeted specifically to young people.
The other co-authors of the study are Shaohua Yu of Georgia State’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology; Dr. Jeffrey Koplan of Emory University’s Global Health Institute; Dr. Shuo Yao of the School of Communication at Radford University; and Julia Song, Dr. Elanah Uretsky and Dr. Cheng Huang of the Department of Global Health and The George Washington University.
To learn more about Tobacco Control research at Georgia State’s School of Public Health, go to: http://publichealth.gsu.edu/tobacco-research-projects/
Georgia State Dean Authors Tobacco Atlas, Highlights Global Toll of Smoking (3/26/15): http://www.aspph.org/georgia-state-dean-authors-tobacco-atlas-highlights-global-toll-of-smoking/
Georgia State Names Partner Cities for Tobacco Control Project in China (4/21/15): http://www.aspph.org/georgia-state-names-partner-cities-for-tobacco-control-project/