Most of Us Are Tobacco Free
An 8-Month Social Norms Campaign Targeting Youth Initiation of Smoking
In the 2000-2001 academic school year, the Montana Social
Norms Project conducted an 8-month long Most of Us Are Tobacco Free
social norm marketing campaign targeting youth between the ages of 12
and 17 years in seven western Montana counties (Missoula, Lake, Rivali,
Mineral, Flathead, Sanders, and Granite). Post-test data revealed that
only 10% of teens in the campaign area reported first time cigarette
use as compared to 17% of teens in a control sample from the 49 counties
in the rest of the state. This represents a 41% difference in the proportion
teens who reported that they initiated smoking in the counties targeted
in the intervention as compared to those in the rest of the state.
Project Funding Sources
Funding for this project was provided by:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control
- Montana Master
Tobacco Settlement Fund
- Montana Department
of Public Health and Human Services
The overall goal
of the project was to achieve in the campaign area a measurable reduction
in the numbers of youth (ages 12-17) experimenting with smoking for
the first time.
Baseline data revealed
no significant differences between the intervention (n = 409) and the
control (n = 419) samples for gender, age, racial composition, or the
percentage of respondents who had tried smoking. Also, baseline data
in the intervention and control counties showed no significant difference
in the perceived norms for tobacco use. Nevertheless, based on various
measures, large percentages of the respondents in both the intervention
and the control counties erroneously thought that the majority of their
peers were using tobacco.
The primary message
of the campaign was:
- MOST of Us (70%)
are tobacco free
were delivered in the seven intervention counties via:
- Television: six
30 second ads on both cable and broadcast stations, aired during three
eight-week media flights.
- Radio: six 30
second ads, aired during three eight-week media flights.
(Note: One of
the important factors that contributed to the selection of the seven
western counties for the intervention was the fact that they were located
in an isolated media market. Therefore, the campaign's normative messages
could be targeted to the teens residing in these counties but not to
the teens in the rest of the state.)
In addition, print
and promotional items distributed to schools, theater slides, billboards,
local newspaper ads and other strategies were employed to deliver the
campaign's normative message.
Pre-test data were
gathered in a phone survey conducted prior to the implementation of
the social norm campaign in September 2000. Households were randomly
selected and initial screening calls were made to parents to obtain
permission for the teenagers to have the privacy to participate in the
interview. A total of 409 pre-test interviews were conducted in the
counties targeted for intervention and 419 were conducted in the rest
of the counties in the state that served as the control.
At the conclusion
of the social norm campaign in May 2001, post-test interviews were conducted
(in July 2001) with 641 of the original 848 teens.
A comparative analysis
of post-test interviews included these findings:
more teenagers spontaneously recalled exposure to television, radio,
and newspaper tobacco prevention messages during the past 30 days
in the intervention counties than did in the control counties.
- When told that
the ad stated "Most of Us (70%) of Montana Teens are Tobacco
Free," significantly more teenagers in the intervention counties
recalled a campaign advertisement than did so in the control counties.
This applied to all types of media: television, radio, newspaper,
billboard, posters, and Frisbees.
- Baseline data
showed no statistically significant difference in the perceived 30-day
tobacco use norms of the teens in the intervention and control counties.
Post-test analysis showed that the percentage of respondents who misperceived
the norm was significantly less in the intervention than in the control
Data on smoking
initiation among respondents in the intervention and control counties
between 2000 and 2001 show a marked and statistically significant difference.
In the intervention counties, only 10% of the adolescents tried smoking
during the year who had never used tobacco previously. This contrasts
with 17% of the adolescents in the control counties who initiated smoking
during the year.
point difference represents a 41% difference in the proportion of teens
who initiated smoking in the campaign area as compared to the rest of
Montana Social Norms Project
Montana State University - Bozeman
P.O. Box 170520
Bozeman, MT 59717-0520
H. Wesley Perkins,
Evaluation Consultant to the Montana Social Norms Project
Professor of Sociology
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, NY 14456
For further information
about the particular project described here, see the web page of the
Most of Us Are Tobacco Free Campaign.
Linkenbach, J. W. and H. W. Perkins, "Most of Us Are Tobacco Free:
An Eight-Month Social Norms Campaign Reducing Youth Initiation of Smoking
in Montana," (2003) in The Social Norms Approach To Preventing
School And College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook For Educators, Counselors,
And Clinicians, Ed. H. Wesley Perkins. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
information about the Montana Most of Us projects, all of which strive
to produce social change through a variety of innovative, science-based
methods, visit the Montana
Most of Us web page.