Anti-Tobacco Campaign Linked to Lower Levels of Teen Smoking

North Carolina's statewide anti-tobacco media campaign, “Tobacco. Reality. Unfiltered” (TRU), has reached a record number of youth in the state and helped lower teen tobacco use, according to a study by the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill.

TRU's TV campaign features real North Carolina residents who are suffering from tobacco-related illnesses.

UNC's Survey Research Unit conducted a baseline telephone survey with youth ages 11 to 17 across the state in March and April 2004. Followup surveys took place after the fall ad campaigns in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

The most recent surveys started in January 2009, following the launch of TRU's latest ads. The spots focus on a woman who started smoking at age 13 and got cancer at age 19.

Researchers found that awareness of the TRU ads increased from 48 percent of youths in the target age group in 2004 to 77 percent in 2009. More than 94 percent of youth in North Carolina who said they had seen the TRU ads said the spots were convincing and gave good reasons to not light up.

Sensation-seeking youths, who are at greater risk for smoking, are more likely to be familiar with the ads and TRU's slogan, according to the study. 

“The TRU media campaign appears increasingly successful and integral to our state's success in reducing youth tobacco consumption,” said Adam Goldstein, M.D., who led the study and is the director of UNC's Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program. “Keeping the campaign focused on true health stories of real people and continuously on North Carolina's airwaves will help ensure future success.” 

TRU is sponsored by the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund.  


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