Event Abstract

Statistical evaluation of intentions of adults towards smoking advertisements

  • 1 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Mathematics, Faculty of Science, Greece
  • 2 Medical School, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Tobacco products receive advertisement and promotion on a global scale. Though the intended audience of tobacco advertising has changed throughout the years, individuals of both genders, originating from different socio-economical backgrounds, and belonging to diverse age groups have been targeted by the tobacco industry in an effort to maximize the advertising impact and the sales profit of tobacco products as well as to subsequently recruit new smokers. The use of visual stimuli within smoking advertisements is particularly influential for individuals who have never smoked or have little experience with smoking. Carefully crafted smoking-related advertisements, of various communication styles, portray themes which downplay health issues and associate positive qualities (i.e. youth, beauty, enthusiasm, accomplishments) to smoking. Given that transitions among the early stages of smoking are led by smoking-related media, self-image improvement, and mood, whereas later progression and dependent smoking are related to factors such as craving, gaining a more detailed understanding of the effects of smoking advertising can lead to improved smoking prevention. The focus of the current research is to evaluate the intentions of adults (both non-smokers and smokers) to smoke following their exposure to smoking advertisements. To address this issue, we administered an online questionnaire to a large sample of adults (n=175, mean age= 36.98±9.15 years, ranging from 18 to 62, females= 118 (67.4%), non-smokers= 123 (70.2%), high income= 82 (46.9%)), and assessed the participants’ socio-demographics and their smoking habits (26 questions, e.g. age, gender, smoking status, income status) as well as their affective response towards 60 images (5 questions/image) that depicted smoking advertisements of recurring communication styles (10 images/recurrent style). Specifically, we evaluated the participants’ quantitative responses along five statements in the form of five-level Likert items (disagreement (1) / agreement (5)). The statements targeted the advertisements’ level of emotional affect, and arousal, their comprehensibility, the appreciation of their content (color, text, slogan), and their potential to govern consumer purchase intentions towards specific brands. The questionnaire duration was approximately 15-20 minutes. We used decision tree learning models in order to describe the exact features (i.e. age, gender, income and smoking status) and the level of their influence on the intentions of adults following their exposure to smoking advertisements. The tree’s algorithm defines hierarchically some key decision rules according to the impact factors that divide the participants (based on their answers to the questions) into different classes of similar responses on smoking tendency following their exposure to smoking advertisements. Our findings indicate that advertisements that portray appealing human elements (faces, body figures of both males and females), in the absence of tobacco elements such as cigarettes, seem to emotionally affect mostly male non-smokers (under theirs fifties), but in a low arousing manner. The low level of activation generalizes among subjects between 30-40 years old. As age increases (over 41 years old), subjects tend to maintain a more neutral activation attitude. Smoking advertisements depicting attractive female models (faces and figures), were considered easier to comprehend by male subjects under their mid-thirties in contrast to female subjects over their mid-thirties. Thus, it seems that the later do not easily identify themselves with the portrayed behavior. Male subjects under their mid-thirties were indecisive on the advertisements’ content interpretation when the human elements were not the main theme of the advertisements. Smoking advertisements portraying healthy, enthusiastic, young people engaged in social activities were overall appreciated by young subjects under their thirties in contrast to middle-aged female subjects over their forties and middle-aged smokers at the fifth decade of their lives. In addition, campaigns that portrayed a high level of symbolism and positive slogans, and thus kept the actual product at the background, were mainly appreciated by non-smokers between 30-45 years old. Those advertisements that portrayed male models in dominance of female models were better received by male subjects at the fourth and fifth decade of their lives as opposed to females of similar ages with high incomes who were negative towards them. Textual advertisements featuring personal achievement slogans tend to be indifferent to smokers in contrast to non-smokers. Moreover, this theme was neutral to males with low income but not to females with low income who received it positively. Finally, males with high income expressed a positive attitude, whereas females with high income were neutral. Our findings are regarded as suggestive due to their reliance on correlational data. Nevertheless, our findings provide empirical support for the hypothesis that smoking advertisements may predispose individuals with no or minimum smoking experience towards starting to smoke cigarettes. In addition, findings regarding the factors of gender and income status require further investigation. The following steps in our analysis will be to distinguish the participants that were influenced by smoking advertisements along with their corresponding features (age, gender, income and smoking status). We will employ further statistical evaluation techniques such as regression models for ordinal responses, association rules, in order to build an optimized model that predicts whether or not adults tend to smoke following their exposure to smoking advertisements. Finally, it is within our immediate plans to link the findings of this study to neurophysiological data (i.e. EEG, GSR, HR) acquired during the passive viewing of these advertisements so as to investigate in a more efficient manner the affective response of adults towards smoking advertisements.


The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 681120.

Keywords: advertising, Smoking, Tobacco, Marketing, questionnaire, Decision Trees

Conference: SAN2016 Meeting, Corfu, Greece, 6 Oct - 9 Oct, 2016.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation in SAN2016 Conference

Topic: Posters

Citation: Chasiotou V, Styliadis C, Romanopoulou E, Bratsas C and Bamidis PD (2016). Statistical evaluation of intentions of adults towards smoking advertisements. Front. Hum. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: SAN2016 Meeting. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2016.220.00098

Received: 29 Jul 2016; Published Online: 01 Aug 2016.

* Correspondence: Prof. Panagiotis D Bamidis, Medical School, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, -- SELECT --, 54124, Greece, bamidis@med.auth.gr

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